Many students in the Red McCombs School of Business said they support a tuition increase but have concerns about how much tuition rates go up and how increased funding will be spent within the University.
A forum this Tuesday, hosted by the McCombs College Tuition and Budget Advisory Committee, allowed students to voice their opinions before the committee made recommendations to the University provost regarding a proposed maximum university-wide tuition hike of 2.6 percent for in-state residents and 3.6 percent for non-residents.
Finance senior Leanna Swain said she supports tuition increases but felt that allocating the increased funding entirely to support 12 possible new tenured staff members, as School of Business Dean Thomas Gilligan has proposed, is not the best idea.
“I feel fine about increasing tuition,” Swain said. “Just spending tuition increases on new faculty is unsustainable. Perry can turn around and mandate a 20-percent decrease and pull it all out. In two or three years, we may have to fire them again.”
Michael Daehne, Undergraduate Business Council president and CTBAC co-chair, said last year’s budget cuts resulted in 44 sections of McCombs’ classes being cut for the current semester, saving $619,776. Five tenured staff and three lecturers were laid off as a result of the cuts, which heavily contributed to increased class sizes and caused a drop in the school’s Businessweek ranking, he said.
“The student-faculty ratio increased from 65 students to one instructor to 70 students to one instructor, and that was a big part in Businessweek dropping McCombs’ ranking,” Daehne said.
Student-faculty ratios are likely to increase without the future newly hired professors, Daehne said.
“In my opinion, [the budget is} already pretty lean, and without tuition increases, it won’t be long before you see it,” Daehne said. “Class sizes will increase.”
Non-residents would see a $642 per semester increase to the current $17,824 McCombs students spend on average per semester if the increase was approved. Resident tuition would only increase $160 per semester.
Finance junior Maria Vlahova said an increase in scholarships for out-of-state students, such as herself, could alleviate the situation because not many non-resident scholarships are available.
Vlahova said increasing non-resident tuition will deter students from choosing to attend UT because McComb’s non-residents pay the most of all undergraduates at the University already.
“I don’t support a huge out-of-state tuition increase,” Vlahova said. “It will not be beneficial at all because it makes us less competitive. We’re paying as much as private schools for a public education.”
A minimum of 20 percent of all funds generated by tuition increases must go to scholarships, Daehne said. He said the committee will include the insight relayed to the committee by non-resident students at the meeting.
Committee member and management junior Kristal Braley said student input such as the non-resident concerns was a major reason the McCombs CTBAC decided to hold the forum.
“We technically don’t have to do this,” Braley said. “We felt we would not be doing our job correctly if only CTBAC students participated. We [wanted] to hear from students to make sure we we’re 100 percent confident we were making the right recommendations when the report goes to the provost on Friday.”
Printed on October 12, 2011 as: Forum held to discuss tuition hike