School of Management seeks tuition increase

Elika Roohi/Sun Star Reporter
Sept. 10, 2013

Illustration by Raechyl Huisingh

Illustration by Raechyl Huisingh

The UAF School of Management thinks higher tuition for students studying fields with higher paying jobs may be a fair solution to ongoing budget problems.

Last April, SOM approached the Board of Regents asking them to consider differential tuition for their program. The board delayed the decision, giving everyone the summer to research the option. The decision will be reviewed at the board meeting at the end of September.

The proposal is to increase tuition by 25 percent for upper division SOM classes. At the moment, 94 percent of the SOM budget goes to salaries, which are some of the highest at UAF, according to the University of Alaska Salary    Database.

SOM is a dually accredited college both nationally and internationally, and is the sixth most popular degree at UAF.  Accounting students that have graduated the program go on to have a 95 percent job placement.  Quality education takes quality professors, according to SOM Dean Mark Herrmann.

At the moment, all extracurriculars in the college are paid for by private funding.  If the tuition was raised, the money would go to offering more classes and offering them on a regular rotation, according to Herrmann.

“We’re just being responsible,” Herrmann said.

Facing a huge deficit, the university is cutting costs across the board, and the SOM feels like differential tuition is the only way to maintain the quality of their programs.

Differential tuition is catching on at many universities across the country. According to a presentation Herrmann gave at the April Board of Regents meeting, 37 states have differential tuition for business programs. Differential tuition is common in programs where faculties are paid high wages and students graduate to get jobs that pay high wages.

The Coalition of Student Leaders, which comprises members from student governments from all of the universities in the UA system, is withholding judgment on the proposal for the time being until they talk to students on their respective campuses about the issue of differential tuition.

The Coalition does have several concerns about the proposal including how financial aid would work out for SOM students specifically and whether passing differential tuition at UAF would set a precedent for other programs. If the proposal passes, ASUAF President Ayla O’Scannell is advocating for a pilot program, so that differential tuition would be thoroughly evaluated before any other colleges adopted it.

According to O’Scannell, UA President Gamble said the Board would be cautious with the program if they decided to use it.

“We want to make sure it’s helping, not hurting,” O’Scannell said.

Other universities have implemented differential tuition, and it’s a mixed review, according to CSL Speaker and Distance Ketchikan Liberal Arts Student Shauna Thornton. One problem other schools have faced is significantly smaller enrollment numbers in those colleges with higher tuition.

These are all things to consider, says Thornton. She thinks the proposal came up too quickly. The SOM hadn’t really approached anyone about the proposal before the Regents meeting in April.

“We’re not making this big of a decision in 5 minutes,” Thornton said.

For the time being, the members of CSL have gone back to school at their respective campuses with the intent of reaching out to their student bodies about this issue.

At UAF, Dean Herrmann is going to speak at the ASUAF meeting on Sept. 15, and President Ayla O’Scannell encourages students to attend to learn more.

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