Archive for Thursday, June 6, 2013

Budget cuts to higher education lead to request for higher tuition

June 6, 2013


— College students at public universities in Kansas will pay more in tuition because of budget cuts to higher education that were approved by the Legislature, officials said Thursday.

In considering proposed tuition increases at Kansas University and other universities, Kansas Board of Regents members roundly criticized the budget cuts approved this weekend by Republican legislators.

Short-sighted, vindictive, hypocritical, and irresponsible were just some of the adjectives used by regents to describe the $66 million, or 5.7 percent cut to higher education over the next 2 years.

The appropriations bill includes a 1.5 percent across-the-board cut for each of the next 2 years, and caps salary expenses, which some universities, including KU, have said will be difficult to handle.

For KU, the budget cuts will total $13.5 million over 2 years, or 8.2 percent for the KU Medical Center and 3.8 percent at KU-Lawrence.

Regents urged Gov. Sam Brownback to veto the part of the bill that caps salary appropriations. Brownback's office said he will review the budget bill over the next few days.

Regent Vice Chairman Fred Logan of Leawood said Brownback "needs to send a message to the Legislature that that kind of bad public policy isn't going to be tolerated." It was unclear if a veto of that provision would actually have any monetary effect or just serve as a policy statement.

On Thursday, KU proposed a 4.4 percent increase in tuition and fees for incoming freshmen, and increases ranging from 5.32 percent to 7.64 percent at KU Medical Center.

Even with the increases, programs and services at KUMC will have to be cut because of the ways the legislative budget cuts are structured, said Dr. Doug Girod, executive vice chancellor at KUMC.

"There is no way to close this gap with a tuition increase," Girod said. He said a 2 percent increase was added to the tuition proposal after the budget cuts were approved, but "that doesn't come close to touching our cuts." He said a 12 percent tuition increase would have been needed to offset the budget cuts to KUMC.

Instead, he said, cuts will have to be made in staff and programs at KUMC. "We're at the point where we are trying to figure out what businesses to get out of," he said.

The problem is made even more difficult, he said, because while the Legislature cut KUMC's budget it added a budget provision that says KU can't reduce enrollment or eliminate programs at KUMC campuses in Salina, Wichita, Kansas City or Lawrence. Not only does that tie administrators' hands, but officials also noted that Lawrence is not a KU Medical Center campus.

The Legislature also rejected a proposal from Brownback to provide $35 million in bonding authority and $10 million in funding to jumpstart construction of a new medical education building at KUMC. KU has said it needs the building to produce more physicians for the state.

Regent Dan Lykins of Topeka said the budget actions by legislative leaders seemed vindictive. He added, "It is just mind-boggling that this would come out of a group of legislators that we just assume is doing the best for Kansas, when obviously it is not."

During the session, House Speaker Ray Merrick, R-Stilwell, and House Appropriations Chairman Marc Rhoades, R-Newton, said they believed higher ed could be cut even deeper. State Sen. Tom Arpke, R-Salina, was instrumental in removing Brownback's recommendation on funding the medical education building because he said KU had been irresponsible in increasing tuition over the past 10 years.

But Regent Robba Moran of Hays praised KU and said she didn't understand legislators who make negative statements about the school. "They are an outstanding university that we should be proud of. If you want to have outstanding universities you have to pay for them," Moran said. She praised KU's Business Dean Neeli Bendapudi as a pro-business, free market dean who is generating enthusiasm.

Regent Christine Downey-Schmidt of Inman called the Legislature's appropriations bill "the most irresponsible" in her 20 years of state government experience. "I think the governor should just be furious," she said. Brownback had urged the Legislature to reject cuts to higher education.

Downey-Schmidt said the higher education budget approved by the Legislature was full of "hypocritical decision-making" and "short-sighted ideological focus."

Merrick, however, issued a statement that said the regents need to find savings.

“The Regents institutions play a vital role in Kansas and will share in the success of our state as the economy strengthens. In the meantime, keeping a close eye on expenditures should be a priority for every entity receiving taxpayer funding. We believe that, like state government as a whole, the Regents can scrutinize spending and find ways to be more efficient," Merrick said.


Hardhawk1 5 years ago

It is time for Kansas to reexamine the entire 4 year college undergraduate degree model. That model is outdated and simply too expensive for many Kansas students. They can no longer afford the luxury of taking 2 years of general classes then focusing on a degree specific area in the second 2 years. Degree requirements need to be streamlined and the fluff eliminated so that undergraduate degrees can be attained in 2 years, 3 max. For many Kansas students a college degree is simply no longer affordable and these latest tuition increase requests are only making things worse. Kansas politics does not appear to show any signs of changing any time soon so hand wringing and complaining about the legislature is not going to accomplish anything. The tired strategy of going back to the well for tuition increases does not work when the well is dry, as it is for many Kansas families. It is time for the Regents to say NO to another round of tuition hikes and for Kansas universities to rethink their models of operations. These models are dinosaurs from a time long passed and no longer serve Kansas well. The new model should be more streamlined and allow students to get in, get what they need for their chosen degree, and get out with the least amount of time and expense possible.

chootspa 5 years ago

A) It's only way too expensive because the state has been cutting their funding and B) if you want to leave with job skills in two years, you go to a trade school or community college instead of a university.

Shardwurm 5 years ago

This is not true. It's too expensive because KU is bloated. Don't try to say it isn't because I know several employees who openly admit they do nothing and get paid quite well for it.

elliottaw 5 years ago

And I know many who are working 16+ hours a day everyday just to try and keep up with their work loads because of staff cuts

Thomas Bryce Jr. 5 years ago

They probably have Assoc. Vice or Asst. Vice something as part of their title.

Shardwurm 5 years ago

Totally agree. There are creative ways to make things more affordable and KU refuses to consider them...or so it seems. Here we have 'Harvard on the Kaw' using people with high school diplomas to teach classes. There is a Pre-Bar course going on right now that is 8 weeks long and costs $3,800. The students go into the classroom and someone presses 'play' on the DVD player and they watch a video. That's it. No interaction. No instructor. Just sit and watch a video. The Education Industry is a complete sham.

voevoda 5 years ago

Sharwurm, you identified two ways to make KU "more affordable"--eliminate the requirement that instructors actually have credentials ("people with high school diplomas to teach classes"), and substitute pre-recorded lectures ("they watch a video") for actual interaction with an instructor. You complain about quality but you want the cost to be even less than it is.

If you think $3,800 is expensive for an 8-week, intensive course that is highly specialized and directed towards holders of graduate law degrees who are preparing for a bar exam, imagine how much it would cost to teach in the format you'd like: a small class interacting with instructors who are senior professors who hold JD/PhD degrees and have years of experience grading bar exams. (Answer: A semester's tuition is $8,444 for in-state Law students.)

If you want a high-quality product, Shardwurm, expect to pay what it really costs.

Bob_Keeshan 5 years ago

Speaker Merrick -- "keeping a close eye on expenditures should be a priority for every entity receiving taxpayer funding..."

This from a man who just wasted almost half a million dollars on a 99 day legislative session.

Speaker Merrick -- "like state government as a whole, the Regents can scrutinize spending and find ways to be more efficient..."

Well, not state government as a whole. The Legislature is exempted from finding ways to be more efficient and instead will spend almost $500,000 more than they were allotted.

jafs 5 years ago

And, of course, $300 million and counting for a project originally estimated at about $3 million.

question4u 5 years ago

Fact: China has just embarked on a $250 Billion a year investment in higher education. Their model? The American higher education system.

If the model is so badly flawed, why copy it? Why did 723,277 Chinese nationals enroll as students in American universities in the 2010-11 academic year. Are three quarters of a million Chinese students attending American universities because the model is "outdated" a "luxury," and just "fluff"? Why on earth would the Chinese government be investing $250 billion a year in a model of education that is "a dinosaur from a time long passed [sic]"?

But let's go ahead. Let's "allow students to get in, get what they need for their chosen degree, and get out with the least amount of time and expense possible."

Leave the development of critical thinking skills to the Chinese. We'll take our new fast-food model of education and lead the world in product innovation, development of new technologies, and groundbreaking science. No nation on earth will be able to compete with the United States once we cut our education requirements in half.

Then we can apply the same strategy to the military: get officers in and out or the academies "with the least amount of time and expense possible." That will give the US military a huge advantage over any adversary.

American military academies definitely need to change to keep up with the times. At the United States Naval Academy you can actually still major in English. According to the Naval Academy's website: "The English major involves reading, understanding, and responding to the most significant works of literature from ancient Greece, Renaissance England, early and modern America, and English-speaking countries in Africa and elsewhere."

The Naval Academy has a Languages and Cultures department that "aspires to provide the Fleet with linguistically skilled and culturally informed graduates who can be called upon to serve the needs of the Navy and Marine Corps."

They must not know what they're doing at the US Naval Academy. After all, everyone knows that classes on English, foreign languages, and cultures are just "fluff."

Dave Trabert 5 years ago

KU increased undergraduate tuition and fees by 194% over the last ten years, and some of those increases were used to increase cash reserves. KU started the 2012 school year with $24 million in tuition cash reserves, $19.7 million of which was added over the last ten years. They had $82.6 million in Restricted Fees cash reserves, $64.6 million of which was added over the last ten years. Students fees are included in that fund but are not the only component.

KU also increased General Use administrative costs by 75% over the last ten years.

These are just some of the facts contained in "A Historical Perspective of State Aid, Tuition and Spending for State Universities in Kansas" we published, available at

elliottaw 5 years ago

Hoe much of that is needed to pay the bills between pay days? There are tons and tons of facts left out of this report, it is very slanted and biases.

Alceste 5 years ago

Too many overpaid (as in over $100,000.00 cash plus perks and "benefits") "administrators" and "lecturers" at this joint. Pay reductions are in order.

KU classified already are paid more than their counterparts in the other sections of "civil service" within state of Kansas, hence no need for pay raises there.

voevoda 5 years ago

Name even one "lecturer" (that's the job title) who makes over $100,000 per year.

If you don't know the difference between "administrators," "lecturers," and "KU classified," you don't know enough about universities to comment about compensation levels.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 5 years ago

Sorry! Lecturers make a fraction of what a professor does. They have NO union unlike GTA's. They are Private contractors renewed Semester by semester. My spouse makes 1/3 the salary of Tenured Faculty in her dept. and teaches 3 lab classes per semester. Not one professor teaches anywhere near that kind of load. Lecturers save KU Money. My dad was an EE Professor and Chair of EE. He called lecturers Legalized Slave Labor for the University

Thomas Bryce Jr. 5 years ago

Our system already allows for as much education as you can afford. KU is making education affordable by having more Lecturers and GTAs than Professors teaching. I question that philosophy. I know it is saving them money but I can't help but think it affects the Quality of Education and KU's Rankings as well.

Hardhawk1 5 years ago

The fact remains that the education model that KU follows is broken. Cut the fluff, focus on what students REALLY NEED to be prepared for a career, and then just do it! Do you really need Western Civilization for a real world career outside of being a history teacher? While that information makes for a more well rounded person in a perfect world, the average Kansan just can't afford that kind of fluff any more. What students really need for a degree could be taken care of in 2-3 years tops. The university has recently admitted that fact with its new combo program where you can get undergrad and law degrees in 6 years rather than the traditional 7 years. That program basically admits that you can eliminate one year and still have what you need for both your undergraduate and law degrees! The first year of law school counts as your last year of undergraduate. That is the kind of outside the box thinking that the entire university needs to look at. Make KU a strong value and the enrollment will climb rather than drop! Everyone knows it, now it is time to shake things up and actually DO something about it! KU's future depends on such innovations and its leadership needs to realize that fact and stop protecting the bloated and archaic methods of the past. This stone knives and bearskins mentality does not serve KU well. Stop protecting turf and start thinking about your market or before too much longer the market is going to rebel.

Miles Nease 5 years ago

The anti-KU crowd is out in force today. To the person that said KU's research is declining, I suggest you do some research, yourself, before posting something this erroneous. The fact is KU research numbers have never been higher and continue to grow. KU, also remains one of the best bargains in higher education. It isn't quite the bargain it was when I was in school, but back then we didn't have illiterates, such as Arpke, Merrick and Rhoades, running the show in Topeka. These clowns are hellbent on trying to get KU kicked out of the AAU.

Hardhawk1 5 years ago

I am far from "anti-KU". I have two degrees from KU and have been and continue to be a KU Honors program volunteer for over 20 years. I love KU, but am willing to face up to the fact that the world is changing fast and KU isn't. It is time for KU's leadership to shape up or ship out. I want nothing more than my school to succeed. It is time for KU to lead, follow, or get out of the way. The status quo isn't going to cut it any longer.

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

Supply Side Brownback and the Kansas GOP says increase the cost of attending college so the big banks make more money financing student loans.

Talk about a gravy train....

Richard Heckler 5 years ago

Arthur Laffer works for Sam ALEC Supply Side Brownback.

Economist Arthur Laffer, patron saint of tax cuts, is back, with an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal that he hopes will put the kibosh on future plans for government stimulus. Laffer, who had his heyday back in the Reagan years, is best known as the popularizer of the notion that raising tax rates beyond a certain level can actually reduce tax revenues by, among other things, discouraging entrepreneurship.

While he’s always had detractors, Laffer also had a lot of fervent fans back in the day. But his latest excursion into the public debate has drawn harsh criticism not only from liberal economists like Berkeley’s Brad DeLong but also from stimulus-hating, anti-Keynesian economists you might expect to agree with the Laffer line.

The consensus? Laffer seems to have forgotten, or ignored, some pretty basic concepts in economics. In other words, Laffer is getting laughed off the economic stage. And Corp America is still laughing all the way to the big banks.

Read more:

Alceste 5 years ago

voevoda opines above:

"Name even one "lecturer" (that's the job title) who makes over $100,000 per year. If you don't know the difference between "administrators," "lecturers," and "KU classified," you don't know enough about universities to comment about compensation levels."

Alceste made a response but the staff won't code these pages for MSIE 10 so 90% of the time replies don't stay put and one can't do a thumbs up.

Alceste sent voevoda a private message with the requested data since it's against the terms of service to be posting other names. Alceste knows very well and good the difference between the three categories noted....and, more importantly, Alceste also knows the similarities.

Going further, 1/3 or more of the "Regents" schools need to be closed. Why does a Grade C- state like Kansas need so many "world class universities"? Close 'em.

Thinking_Out_Loud 5 years ago

mikekt wrote "...they must be willing to throw money at an extra set of administrators and duplicitous equipment for the Salina Campus." But I believe you meant "duplicate equipment." Generally speaking, people (such as politicians) are duplicitous. Equipment is duplicated.

JuanValdez 5 years ago

Annual state funding to the University of California 1.2 billion dollars Annual state funding to the University of Kansas 250 million dollars

It is good to keep things in perspective when discussing rankings.

Brian Laird 5 years ago

According to the UC Berkeley website (which is what I assumed you mean by University of California, which is actually a system of 10 Universities, not a single campus), the state funding to UCB is about $500 million a year (not $1.2B), which is still greater than the $250 million to KU. To keep it in perspective, in state tuition for a full time student (30 credit hours/year) is about $13K at UCB and about 9K at KU. Also, KU enrollment is smaller than UCB (29,500 vs. 36,000).

verity 5 years ago

Education is not just about learning a trade. It is about learning how to think, where/how to find information and process it into something meaningful.

Yes, we all do need to study the history of western civilization. We all need to understand the history of science and the scientific process. We need to understand what philosophy actually means. We need to understand our legal system and how it developed. To call this kind of learning fluff is the result of a fluffy brain. We need to know how we got to where we are if we are going to progress into the future. A lot of people on here think progress is bad and that Progressives is a dirty word---I really fail to understand why.

I can't think of anything I ever learned, even when it seemed far from my career path, that didn't help me in some way in what I did for a living. No knowledge is ever wasted---well, there are some books of fiction that I wish I'd never read---but other than that.

jafs 5 years ago

Nicely said.

But, I fear that you (and I) are dinosaurs, and that our version of education is rapidly disappearing, especially for those at the lower end of the income spectrum.

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