Tuition hiked for engineering students

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Graph showing the percentage of tuition increase at the time of a recession. By State Higher Education Executive Officers Association.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks imposed a 20 percent tuition increase in addition to regular fees on the students of the College of Engineering and Mines in February 2016.

The increase, commonly called “differential tuition,” was already enacted for students of the School of Management several years ago.

Some students believe these costs will hurt more than help the university in the long run.

“We’re still cheaper than a lot of schools of similar quality,” Arsh Chauhan, a computer science major said. “But if we keep using that as an excuse to increase tuition we may be driving away future students who may choose UAF due to the cost benefit.”

Despite the initial negative reaction that higher tuition could cause among students, Douglas Goering, dean of College of Engineering and Mines (CEM) says there are several reasons why CEM chose to enact differential tuition.

“Both business and engineering are more expensive subjects to teach to students than liberal arts, sciences or even math,” Goering said.

Engineering classes also tend to have more labs and variety of courses than other degrees, with the additional expense of lab equipment, teacher’s assistants, and machine shop maintenance, according to Goering.

“This reason makes sense for engineering departments who need to spend a lot of money every few years for refreshing their various labs, but I think it unfairly affects computer science students who do not use those facilities,” Chauhan said. “Even though we have a lab, this new money does not affect the Computer Science Department since they had enough to do a refresh every three years.”

In anticipation of the added tuition, CEM has made an effort to find more scholarship opportunities. Goering claims that due to these efforts engineering students actually pay less than liberal arts students.

“There are more scholarship opportunities in engineering than there ever have been,” Goering said. “Business has done the same.”

In a meeting earlier this year, Goering met with a group of about 80 CEM students to talk about the benefits and problems with the tuition change.

Goering illustrated in one graph made by State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, that during the time period of any recession experienced within the US, tuition levels tend to spike.

Since Alaska is currently confronting financial difficulty, all UAF students will likely feel some impact in terms of tuition costs, according to Goering.

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