Thursday, December 8, 2011

Deck The Halls

[My friend and fellow alum, Michael McNabb, writes:]

Students from the U of M School of Music performed Deck The Halls in the atrium at the business school on November 23.  One can see the spirit generated by the performance in the faces of the business students who were present.  Now a tone deaf administration announces a plan that will crush that spirit by charging business students with "differential tuition."  Within three years the undergraduate business students will pay $2,000 more per year in tuition than other U of M undergraduate students.  See the December 1, 2011 report in the Star Tribune.

The administration asserts that it must increase tuition in order to hire more faculty due to increased enrollment.  Yet that increase in enrollment has produced a corresponding increase in the total amount of tuition paid by business students.

The Provost claims that state budget cuts prevented the administration from implementing a plan to hire more faculty.  The fact is that the senior administrators and the Regents are the persons responsible for determining the allocation of state appropriations to the business school.  In fiscal year 2012 the University will receive $484 million in state appropriations for its general fund.  Senior administrators (with the approval of the Regents) made the decision to allocate less than 1% of the state appropriations ($3.3 million) to the business school.  See Off Course in Higher Education.

"Differential tuition" can be justified only if the cost of instruction at the business school exceeds the amount of tuition paid by the students, state appropriations, and the corporate and individual contributions dedicated to that cost.  The real problem here is that the administration has not calculated the cost of instruction.  In the absence of an accurate calculation of that cost there is no rhyme or reason to imposing a greater financial burden on the students (and their parents).  See also Going To Market.                                                                     


"I will push back on anything that begins to put a financial barrier in front of qualified students."

President Eric Kaler at p. 8 of the Fall 2011 issue of Reach, the magazine of the College of Liberal Arts (emphasis added).

Kaler is recommending that the board change a regents policy to allow the tuition surcharge ["differential tuition"].  If it passes, it would make it easier for other U colleges to get similar approvals.

December 1, 2011 report in the Star Tribune.


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