Regents advised to raise tuition
By Randy Trick
The public discussion of next year's tuition started Friday morning, significantly earlier than in recent years.
Harlan Patterson, vice provost for planning and budgeting, presented administrative views concerning tuition for the 2004-05 school year to the Academic and Student Affairs Committee of the Board of Regents .
Unless the Legislature amends bills from the past year, the regents have the authority to raise resident undergraduate tuition 7 percent and have unlimited tuition-setting authority for all other students.
The recommendation from Patterson includes the maximum increase for resident undergraduates, an 11 percent increase for non-resident undergraduates and increases as high as 26 percent for some graduate programs.
"What we have found is that the resident-graduate rates around the country have gone up significantly higher than forecasted," said Patterson. "It would probably take something around a 12 percent increase this year to stay up with the average of the peers."
The proposed 26 percent increase is for resident students in the master's program of the business school. A 19 percent increased has been floated for incoming residents in the nursing master's program.
The administration is suggesting increases between 4.5 percent and 11.7 for the tiered graduate programs, depending on whether tuition should match the peer average or fall in the 75th percentile among peers.
"In the professional schools that we had done some fairly significant tuition increases -- business, law, medicine, dentistry and pharmacy -- our peers even did more than we did," said Patterson. "So that's an aspect of consideration that we have to look at because we were, in our view, quite aggressive over the last few years in moving those up, but our peers managed to be more aggressive."
Many of the regents wanted reassurance that tuition was not being increased for the sake of increasing tuition.
"When I read this, I winced a little," said Regent Dan Evans. "It sounds like we're just chasing everybody else, and I don't think that's the appropriate first thing we ought to be thinking about. If we talk about 12 or 13 percent increases in tuition, in a decade you'll quadruple tuition, or damn near quadruple tuition."
Patterson replied that examining other schools as they increase tuition helps decide how the cost of education ought to be shared, and where the UW fits into the national market for specialized education.
Patterson's presentation was an informational session for the regents; a proposal for a decision may come at February's regents meeting.
Another informational presentation in the committee meeting came from Tim Washburn, assistant vice president and head of the admissions department. Due to the over-enrollment this fall, the UW will not increase its incoming class size next year. The UW will aim to enroll 4,800 freshman next year after enrolling 4,977 this fall.