College Tuition and Budget Advisory Committee

A student asks a question at the Tuition Policy Advisory Committee forum held on Wednesday afternoon at the A.C.E.S building. The forum allowed attendees to directly address concerns they had regarding UTÂ’s budget and tuition.

Photo Credit: Andrea Macias-Jimenez | Daily Texan Staff

Students voiced concerns over potential tuition increases at the Tuition Policy Advisory Committee’s first open forum of this tuition-setting term Wednesday.

This is the first year the committee has held a public forum more than a month before it makes tuition recommendations to President William Powers Jr.

Committee members explained the tuition-setting process the University has used since 2003 when the state legislature handed its power to set tuition rates over to state universities’ governing boards.

TPAC gets input from each of the colleges’ and schools’ College Tuition and Budget Advisory Committee. TPAC will take this input and make tuition recommendations to Powers, who will then recommend tuition policy to the UT System Board of Regents later this semester. However, tuition policy for the next two years will ultimately be set by the Board of Regents.

Student Government President Natalie Butler said the UT System suggested that any tuition increase must be tied to an effort to improve four-year graduation rates and should stay within a 2.6 percent increase.

Mary Knight, associate vice president and budget director, said the Board of Regents limits graduate tuition to 1 percent more than undergraduate tuition.

TPAC co-chair Steven Leslie, executive vice-president and provost, said his office wants to monitor the graduate programs, but the tuition decisions have focused on the four-year graduation rates of undergraduates, as directed by the board.

“Driving force of the economy is driven by these big universities,” Leslie said. “We do not want to force students through the University.”

During the forum, students and parents voiced their concerns about tuition increases.

Information studies graduate student Michael Redding, who is also a member of the school’s College Tuition and Budget Advisory Committee, said students in his two-year graduate program are worried. He said the emphasis on four-year graduation rates in setting tuition policy may not accurately reflect the academic needs of two-year graduate programs.

“If you do it in four years you’re doing it wrong,” Redding said. “The concern is we’ll have these really nice buildings, but no faculty to teach us.”

Nursing junior Jaclyn Rosenthal said efficiency at the School of Nursing seems impossible because students must apply to pre-nursing first and then reapply to upper division nursing.

“[When I was in pre-nursing] they told me about 75 percent of students who get into pre-nursing get into upper division,” Rosenthal said.

She said the nursing school could not afford to keep two teachers this year, which lowered the upper division capacity to admit only 55 percent of students who applied. Rosenthal said some of her nursing classmates take classes outside their degree plan as they wait to be admitted to the upper division nursing sequence.

Leslie said both the nursing school and the pharmacy school must confront these issues because they are competitive, professional schools and receive significantly less funding than medical programs.

Government senior Crystal Zhao said she worked as an orientation adviser this summer and registration posed challenges for incoming freshmen to prepare for an efficient graduation plan.

“I had a very hard time putting students in classes that they needed,” Zhao said, who is also a College of Liberal Art representative. “It really discourages the four-year graduation rate.”

Printed on Thursday, October 13, 2011 as: Students offer input about tuition changes: Advisory committee holds first public forum, receives outside input about polices 

A newly formed student committee submitted recommendations to decrease tuition and increase the quality of UT’s liberal arts education to the college’s dean on Wednesday.

The College Tuition and Budget Advisory Committee for liberal arts compiled information from a survey of more than 400 liberal arts students and urged the college to improve faculty, career services and advising and guarantee smaller classes. According to the recommendations, 65 percent of students are against any kind of increase in tuition, but if a hike is unavoidable, the money should first go toward the resources students feel the most strongly about.

Once approved by the dean of the College of Liberal Arts, the committee’s suggestions must be approved by Tuition Policy Advisory Committee. TPAC is a nine-member committee made up of four UT students and five faculty and staff members, including vice provost Steve Leslie and chief financial officer Kevin Hegarty. If TPAC approves the recommendations, they will be reviewed by President William Powers Jr. before going to the Board of Regents, which ultimately sets tuition.

The college will implement CTBAC’s recommendations, which also include funding a summer enrollment program for incoming freshmen and hiring more lecturers for courses that might delay a student’s graduation time, said Randy Diehl, the College of Liberal Art’s dean.

“It’s been key to have [CTBAC] involved in the discussion early on,” he said. “They’ve provided thoughtful and well-organized recommendations.”

The college plans to accept the committee’s recommendations with the addition of extending increased support for study abroad programs in the college, Diehl said.

The letter of recommendation coincided with TPAC’s first open forum, as the Committee has traditionally held closed meetings. The $92 million state cut for UT’s budget over two years will not be made up by tuition increases, Leslie said at the forum.

“We will try to cover the necessary costs to keep the University strong,” he said.

TPAC members will state their official opinion on the Liberal Arts CTBAC’s recommendations on Friday, after reviewing the committee’s letter to Diehl, said Carisa Nietsche, president of the Senate of College Councils and a TPAC member.

“In terms of personal thoughts, I was really impressed with their recommendations,” she said. “They did a really fine job of combining student opinion from the survey with what’s most feasible.”

Although ideally tuition would not go up, the college’s CTBAC took into account a tuition hike may be necessary and stated what they wanted to focus on should there be an increas, Nietsche said.

“It’s a nice balance, saying we recognize we aren’t the only college involved so we might not get what we want, but here are our priorities should tuition raise,” she said.

Printed on Thursday, October 13, 2011 as: Students offer input about tuition changes: Liberal arts college survey finds support for allocating funds to student resources

Students gave their input on proposed budget shortfalls facing the College of Liberal Arts during an open meeting the College Tuition and Budget Advisory Committee hosted Monday.

CTBAC invited liberal arts students to give recommendations and feedback before the committee submits a formal recommendation plan to Liberal Arts Dean Randy Diehl before spring break, said CTBAC president Carl Thorne-Thomsen.

According to an e-mail the dean sent to liberal arts students on Friday, the college is expected to face millions of dollars in cuts over the next three years. Diehl wrote that the cuts are necessary because of an estimated $27 billion state budget shortfall.

“These are difficult times for all of us and we don’t yet know how deep the cuts will be,” Diehl wrote. “I strive to be as methodical, equitable and transparent as possible during this process and to minimize the damaging effects of the cuts on our core research and teaching missions.”

The college will most likely cut $1 million from area studies centers later this semester, according to the e-mail.
These centers include Asian American studies, Women’s and Gender Studies, Humanities Institute, Texas Language Technology Center and more, according to a recommendation plan by the Academic Planning and Advisory Committee. No center will receive increased funding while the others are being cut.

Members of Liberal Arts Council have been reaching professors and students who are voicing their opinions against these measures, said Shakshi Kshatriya, international relations and global studies junior and a member of
the council.

“Many people feel very passionately about the centers and they are concerned about their decrease,” Kshatriya said.
The committee is focusing on creating more qualitative data to present to the dean by conducting online surveys and soliciting opinions of students across campus, said committee member Yaman Desai.

“We are looking at what services students really value and what services they use more than others,” Desai said.
The formal recommendations will include student feedback and other things that the committee views as high priority issues for the College of Liberal Arts.

Students recommended to the committee that it should ask the centers to look into more options for funding outside the University.

Many guest lectures that are organized through these centers are paid by student tuitions. As much as students might enjoy these guest lectures, the college should be willing to cut down on these costs if push comes to shove,
Kshatriya said.

Government and history junior Philip Wiseman said students are here to get a degree. Things that pertain to graduating on time and getting quality education should be prioritized over other expenses, he said.

CTBAC researched different departments and programs on campus to see how the budget cuts are impacting the University as a whole, Thorne-Thomsen said.