Kansas University will conduct an external review focusing on how its Business School has spent money from a special tuition program.
Each student in the school pays a differential tuition fee to the school per credit hour — about $84 for master’s students and $102 for undergraduates.
For months, a group of concerned MBA students has been asking for more detail on how the school was spending the money and pointing out instances where the money appeared to be spent differently from what was originally proposed in a 2004 document.
While the students have insisted the proposal represents a contract between students who would be paying the tuition and administrators who would be spending it, university officials say the document was a plan — not a firm contract — for how the funds should be used.
“It is always the case that the plan is only as good as the circumstances in which it was created,” said Barbara Romzek, KU’s interim vice provost for academic affairs.
Romzek said she didn’t yet know how long the review would take or how much it would cost.
“It won’t be cheap,” she said.
David Cantrell, one of the MBA students who had voiced the concerns, said that given how much students had spent on the fees — about $31 million over the past six years, according to their information — he was glad to hear of KU’s decision.
“We think that it’s about time that we had an independent audit,” he said.
Romzek said she was beginning to bring together a group of financial auditors who could conduct a “broad-based review” of how the school spent its differential tuition funds in response to the students’ concerns.
The review will seek to determine whether the money was spent in accordance with the original plan, Romzek said. An internal group, which is set to include representation from faculty and students, would help guide the external reviewers, she said.
“We have given answers to the questions the students have asked, but they haven’t thought they were satisfactory answers,” Romzek said.
The external review was initially requested by William Fuerst, KU business dean, as an extra layer of transparency. Fuerst was unavailable for comment on Thursday.
“The dean requested this a couple weeks ago, and we’re glad it’s moving forward,” said Keith Chauvin, associate business dean.