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Archive for Saturday, August 15, 1998

STUDENTS TO DECIDE HOW TO SPEND FEE

August 15, 1998

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The state will match special per-credit-hour technology fees for all Kansas Board of Regents schools.

Engineering students at Kansas University get a constant reminder of where those extra fees they pay for equipment are going.

Whenever the school buys a piece of equipment students paid for with a $15 per-credit-hour equipment fee, it identifies the gear with a metallic tag proclaiming ``School of Engineering equipment purchased with student fees.''

It reassures students the school is spending their money for them.

The engineering school was the first at KU to assess a special fee for equipment, said associate provost Lindy Eakin. Other schools started asking about special fees.

Instead of approaching needs piecemeal, KU and the other Kansas Board of Regents schools, decided to charge a uniform fee to all students. It presented its plan to the Kansas Legislature in June 1997, and Gov. Bill Graves recommended it in January. The legislature passed the $1 per-credit-hour fee during its last session.

The state will match the fee with $2 per-credit-hour.

The fee means $1,817,106 for KU's Lawrence campus this academic year.

Eakin said KU likely will put together a committee with student representation to decide how to spend the money.

That's what the university did during the past academic year, when a 0.5 percent tuition increase for instruction technology took effect.

Schools and programs submitted their wish lists with student input. The William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications, for example, requested $35,784 for computer equipment and software to create a World Wide Web-based publication. The communication studies, political science and psychology departments came together to ask for $17,630 for an upgrade of the 25 computers in the Fraser Hall laboratory.

The School of Business asked for equipment that would give students laptop access during class to the school, university networks and the Web.

KU earmarked some additional money for technology and funded $472,161 in projects.

With the $1 per-credit-hour fee, ``the expectation is to spend money on things for students, not trucks for facilities operations,'' Eakin said. ``It's not restricted just to computers.''

Students supported the fee, but asked for the state match.

``It's got to be a partnership,'' Eakin said. ``And they want to have a voice in how it's spent. We want to get the students involved.''

KU would disperse funds from the fee to each school based on its enrollment. The university also will earmark some of the money for projects that benefit all students. For example, computer laboratories in Budig Hall do not belong to any one school but benefit students from several schools. KU also may use money from the fee to upgrade infrastructure in its residence halls that don't already have computer access.

``The money will be split between the schools and things that benefit everyone,'' Eakin said. ``We'll be taking campuswide proposals and school proposals. We'll be looking for the bigger kinds of things. We've compiled a list of $45 million worth of stuff we think we need.''

-- Deb Gruver's phone message number is 832-7165. Her e-mail address is dgruver@ljworld.com.

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