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Archive for Friday, March 15, 2002

Tuition committee ponders priorities

March 15, 2002

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After learning Thursday it had an extra month to complete its work, a campuswide committee studying a proposed Kansas University tuition increase began deciding how the additional revenue raised by higher tuition should be spent.

The discussions didn't start without controversy. About 50 students attended the meeting to demand the committee reconsider its Monday endorsement of a $50 million tuition increase during the next five years.

Committee members split 5-5 on a vote to reconsider the $50 million amount, so the original plan remained intact.

Jamel Bell, a student representative on the committee, said she supported compiling a wish list before deciding how much tuition should increase. The $50 million figure was based on administrators' estimates of KU's funding deficit compared with its state-selected peers.

"It doesn't make sense that we have some number and have nothing to attribute to it," she said. "I think an amount is the last thing we should come up with in our discussions."

The committee originally planned to complete its report to administrators next week, but Clay Blair, chairman of the Kansas Board of Regents, announced Thursday he would delay a decision on tuition by 30 days.

Administrators now will present their proposals in May, with a decision scheduled for June. Blair said he didn't want legislators to use increased tuition as an excuse to lower other university funding.

"We will insist on program enhancements, not simply filling gaps in the budget," Blair said.

Students who spoke at Thursday's tuition committee meeting suggested using increased tuition for wages  including salaries for graduate teaching assistants, staff and students  classrooms, computer equipment, online enrollment and minority recruitment programs.

The students were split on whether to use the money for faculty salaries, and several said they opposed using the money for faculty research projects.

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