Questions being raised about the use of extra tuition dollars charged in the Kansas University School of Business should get the attention of every KU school that charges “differential” tuition supposedly to fund its special program needs.
Students in KU’s master of business administration program pay an additional $85 per credit hour. Several MBA students now have filed complaints about the lack of student oversight of that money and their concerns about how the money was spent.
When the Kansas Board of Regents approved the differential tuition program in 2004, the plan required the school to establish a student advisory committee to guide how the money was used and issue a semiannual report to all students on the expenditures.
Now, just six years later, KU business school officials admit that the student committee was allowed to lapse about 20 months ago. They also say that while the advisory committee was functioning, it changed the reporting requirement to replace the semiannual report with updates to student groups.
Although business school officials say they recognize the need to restart the student advisory committee, they also defended their use of the extra tuition money, saying that since the program was instituted, the school has added several majors, additional teaching assistants and classes. Some of the funds also were used for scholarships and study abroad programs.
MBA students aren’t the only KU students paying differential tuition fees to support their specific programs. In fact, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences is the only KU school that doesn’t charge the differential fees, ranging from $211 per hour for law students to about $20 per hour for education and music students.
It’s easy to understand why students in the business school or in other schools would be suspicious about how the arbitrary amounts of extra tuition money are really benefiting their educational experience. If the schools aren’t keeping up with requirements to involve students and report their spending, it’s impossible for students to know how the additional money is being spent.
Like general tuition and fees, the differential tuition fees for each KU professional school continue to rise. It may be impossible to itemize how every dollar of regular tuition contributes to a student’s education, it isn’t unreasonable for students to want a closer accounting of their differential tuition dollars — not just in the business school but in every school that collects that money.