Archive for Thursday, May 19, 2011

Kansas regents tell universities to get creative with funding

May 19, 2011


— With the cost of public higher education increasing and state tax support decreasing, Kansas Regents officials on Thursday told university leaders to keep searching for new ways to raise funds.

Looking back at previous cuts in state funding to higher education and forward to little or no increase in the foreseeable future, Regent Dan Lykins of Topeka described it as a “sad issue.”

“We’re in reverse, and it looks like we are going to be in reverse for five years,” said Lykins, of Topeka.

The five-year time period referred to a statement by Gov. Sam Brownback’s budget director Steve Anderson, who told the regents that state funding of higher education would stay flat or increase only slightly over the next five years.

Regents Vice Chair Ed McKechnie, of Arcadia, called that the “doomsday budget” and one that higher education institutions in Kansas should prepare for by finding ways to better market and deliver their product, such as the use of more online course offerings.

A flat budget future follows two years of substantial cuts during the recession that totaled approximately $100 million, or 12 percent.

The budget that starts July 1 includes an estimated 1.4 percent cut, but additional mandates and increased operating costs will make that cut even deeper, school officials said.

Proposed tuition and fee increases for this fall, they said, were required to bridge gaps, sustain needed programs and make some improvements.

“We want to make an effort to enhance quality wherever we can,” said Kansas University Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little.

KU is seeking a $14 million increase in tuition and fees.

That translates into a semester hike from $4,012 to $4,234, a $222 or 5.5 percent increase for an undergraduate taking 15 hours. The nonresident tuition will increase from $9,504 to $10,179, a $675 increase or 7.1 percent.

Tuition and fees under the KU Compact — for first-time, degree-seeking freshmen — would be fixed for four years would increase from $4,366 to $4,611, or $245, which is a 5.6 percent increase.

If the proposed increases are approved, Gray-Little said KU would remain a bargain. KU ranked 28th in tuition and fees out of 35 public universities that are members of the Association of American Universities, she said.

Under KU’s proposal, the increased revenue would be used to cover the cost of unfunded mandates, provide targeted pay increases to retain top faculty and staff, and expand high-demand course offerings.

Gray-Little said “raids on faculty” from schools across the country were increasing.

All the regents schools were seeking increases. For a resident undergraduate, the increase at Kansas State would be 3.8 percent; Wichita State, 5.1 percent; Emporia State, 6.8 percent; Pittsburg State, 6.5 percent; and Fort Hays State, 3.6 percent.

Kansas State President Kirk Shulz said the $6.6 million tuition increase wouldn’t “meet all the needs that we have going into the next year.”

And he noted that more students were having trouble paying their bills on time.

“The most distressing thing about those statistics is that more of them are first-generation (college students) and under-represented minorities,” he said.


Hal Larsen 7 years ago

"Under KU’s proposal, the increased revenue would be used to cover the cost of unfunded mandates, provide targeted pay increases to retain top faculty and staff..."

While I know faculty are exempt, I thought KU is under a pay freeze for staff? Guess not.

kuprof54 7 years ago

"Raids on faculty" are increasing? BGL, are you sure the good people aren't so upset that they're leaving? Are you sure it's not your lack of leadership and people's fears for the strategic direction at KU?

Get a grip, Bernie. Open your eyes. This is your problem to solve and your university to run. Stop blaming it on external factors. There are plenty of fingers to point internally before blaming others.

absolutelyridiculous 7 years ago

How about lowering the non-related to degree requirements for students so they can focus on their field of study and not subsiding departments that have very few students? Tuition is already more than the average family can pay and the student debt load is beyond salvageable. Eventually, the hand the feeds you will stop offering you food if you keep biting it.

yourworstnightmare 7 years ago

This is likely happening. The general education requirements at KU are much more than other universities and haven't been updated in something like 50 years.

There are efforts afoot to reduce general education requirements, which of course is being fought tooth and nail by the units with many faculty and few students (mostly in the humanities).

question4u 7 years ago

It's a common misconception that low producing degree programs are mostly in the humanities. In FY09 the University of Missouri system identified 75 such degree programs, the majority of which are not in the humanities.

question4u 7 years ago

What does "non-related to degree requirements" mean? There is a big difference between a major and a degree. Every course that a student takes for a degree fulfills a degree requirement, though not every course is in the student's major. Are you suggesting that a biochemistry major shouldn't have to take any courses in English? Do you mean that electives such as economics, mass communications, computer science, physical anthropology, logic, history of science, etc. aren't of any use to a biochemistry major?

yourworstnightmare 7 years ago

No, but they should take fewer gen ed courses than they do now.

KU is a research university, not a liberal arts college. KU's gen ed requirements consist of many more credit hours than other peer research universities, almost twice as many, I think.

If one desires a broad liberal arts education, one should attend a liberal arts college. KU is a research university, one role of which is to provide intense, in-depth education in a certain area.

Thinking_Out_Loud 7 years ago

Just out of curiousity, what is the right amount of gen ed courses for a degree?

Sean Livingstone 7 years ago

KU is a research intensive university, the competition to keep the good faculties is a continuous battle among the other universities. In reality, engineering faculties at KU are considerably lower paid than the other Big 12 schools, this is all I know (given equal performance in term of funding and teaching loads).

yourworstnightmare 7 years ago

Yes, this is true of most units at KU; that faculty salaries are lower than regional and national peers.

joshua1532 7 years ago

Price increases due to Inflation continues to run rampant through colleges across the country. The college system in this country is one of the next bubbles to has been fueled by easy loans, many of which can never be repaid. Sound familiar? It can be compared to the mid 2000s, everyone was loading up on real estate, flipping houses, etc, all because "Real estate can never go down, right?" Wrong. Spending thousands (or hundreds of thousands) on education does not guarantee success either.

Here is a documentary just released by the National Inflation Association regarding the college situation in this country. The NIA can be a little over the top sometimes, but there is definitely some good information for those who approach things with an open mind.

yourworstnightmare 7 years ago

This is certainly a plausible scenario, but I need to see maore data and facts before I am convinced.

It is certainly true that a college education is now considered much like home ownership was a decade ago (everyone must have one), and there are very cheap and available loans for it, much like housing.

Betty Bartholomew 7 years ago

(Yes, I do intend to continue harping on the subject.)

How will this affect students who have already enrolled and have accepted financial aid packages? Will the packages be adjusted to cover the extra tuition, or will they be expected to pay the difference out of pocket? Why is this not on the table for 2012 instead?

Tracy Rogers 7 years ago

I haven't received a raise in 3 years at my job. And this year my share of health insurance is going up about $1700/yr. So I'm actually making less money than I used to and doing more work. A salary freeze doesn't sound too bad to me.

Sean Livingstone 7 years ago

KU faculty and KU staffs are two different categories. Faculty performance is gauged by how much reputation they earn outside the school that boost the ranking and quality of KU program. In addition, they obtain funding from outside and thus bring in more monies to the school. These monies subsidize pay and help pay for tuitions for some graduate students, and thus KU got more monies to pay for better facilities. If a faculty doesn't perform, his/her pay will stay stagnant or up at a reduced rate regardless of economic condition. So faculties who perform well during tough economic times, will get raise even though economic situations are tough. If they're able to get a $5 million project, KU's benefit will be very close to $3-4 millions (overheads, tuitions etc.). Some faculties are nationally and internationally renowned.... they are able to bring in quality and improve ranking of their programs. What the article was talking about are these faculties, who really need to be well compensated in order to keep them being hunted by other universities. These faculties may not be the best teachers since research takes a lot of time away from teaching. So in reality, they are the foundation of what differentiate KU from let's say Wichita State, Pitts State, and Baker. It's the state flagship university, and thus it has to focus on research and teaching... sometimes it's just hard to balance. Yes... so if you see pay raise for some of these faculties... don't be surprised. However, we also know that there are faculties who simply take money and don't do any work.... such people exist everywhere. But don't just look at these faculties.... their pay are normally stagnant. Cheers.

wastewatcher 7 years ago

Isn't it ironic that one who was a beneficiary of KU's reaiding activities. the Chancellor, and benefitted as a result is now complaining because faculty are doing the same thing she did. As I recall she got a he--uva of a raise. Maybe she should take a cut or at least quit whining and get the job done that she is being paid to do.

Sean Livingstone 7 years ago

She's doing what she needs to do.... raise the pay and giving credits to good faculties, who will likely leave KU if they find better paying jobs and promotion elsewhere. They may not move if they are given promotion without pay raise. These take time, so a pay cut for her should not be imposed now until we see results in 5-6 years time, and by then, if she's not good, we might as well remove her rather than giving her pay cut.

verity 7 years ago

Wasterwatcher, the chancellor wasn't complaining, she was stating a fact.

And she wasn't moving laterally when she came to KU, she moved up the ladder. A promotion and better pay is different than moving to the same level of job with better pay.

People on these boards keep dissing the chancellor, but rarely do I see any concrete complaints. Just what has she done or not done that you think she should have handled differently? This is a serious question and I would like to see some answers with substance, not just vague "she's not doing her job."

yourworstnightmare 7 years ago

There are a limited number of ways a university can raise money: tuition, research grants and contracts, charitable donations, and intellectual property/patents.

Is there another "creative" avenue not listed here that KU should explore.

Dealing crack? Prostitution?

voevoda 7 years ago

Even with the increases, in-state tuition covers only small fraction of the cost of educating the student (about a third, currently). But can KU attract a significant number of out-of-state and foreign students, who pay full tuition, plus a surcharge to subsidize in-state students? The tuition expense calculations mentioned by some other posters apply to a lot of those students, too. More external grants? A lot of funding agencies are expecting major cutbacks in the coming legislative sessions. More contract research for business? A lot of businesses are used to getting the information they want from state universities for free, paying only for specific product development. Donations? The mega-rich who have money to donate prefer to expend it on anti-education right-wing politicking, or on conspicuous consumption.

akhmatova 7 years ago

KU does its best to attract out of state students -- the Jayhawk Generation scholarship is being done for exactly that purpose.

However, KU already does attract an incredibly large amount of international students because of the Applied English Center. Most schools require a high TOEFL (English proficiency test) score for admission. However, KU does not, and if an international student were to not score high on the TOEFL, he or she would be required to spend one or two (sometimes more!) years taking exclusively AEC classes in order to reach academic English proficiency.

During that time, KU takes in a TON of money from these students. KU is creative when it comes to out-of-state and international students in the form of the Applied English Center and the Jayhawk Generations scholarship program.

SnakeFist 7 years ago

Here's a solution - how about getting back to the primary mission of the university, which is to teach? Close down the multiple recreation centers, increase accountability and productivity requirements for faculty (e.g., make them teach more classes than the few they currently do), and get rid of the darned flower budget! I understand that flowers are part of separate funds, but why are we still asking for a flower funds? Why not ask that the money that would have been budgeted for flowers be shifted to academics? Why is that so difficult? BGL has shown no leadership - she's simply made the same old excuses and told the same old lies (i.e., that students want tuition raised!).

akhmatova 7 years ago

KU -- like all large public schools -- uses things such as recreation centers and campus beautification in order to attract students to the university. Plus, the rec center is paid for from student fees.

As for productivity requirements, do you have any more specific criticisms? Most faculty have their time stretched out pretty thin between research, writing, and teaching already. The same goes for criticisms for the Chancellor -- what specifically has she done that you disagree with? The criticisms you seem to have with her are general criticisms with how all large public schools are run.

JuanValdez 7 years ago

So you propose we turn KU into JCCC so that the few engineering and high tech firms we have take off and settle in states like Texas with well-funded higher education systems.

Great idea, our brightest kids will follow those companies out of state and drain the largest percentage of our tax base.

People like you will not be happy until they see Kansas competing with states like Mississippi for the lowest ranking in the Kauffman foundation report on transition to the high tech economy.

Education be dammed. Let the biotech and engineering jobs go to Massachusetts. We want mediocre faculty, a mediocre university, and agricultural jobs for our kids

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