Memorandum to Provost Steven Leslie from the Cockrell School of Engineering CTBAC endorsing Dean Gregory Fenves’ tuition proposal
Memorandum expresses the CTBAC’s support of a tuition increase in the Cockrell School of Engineering for the 2012-14 biennium in order for the school to remain competitive among its peer engineering institutions and improve four-year graduation rates. The memorandum also states that “students believe that if tuition is not increased, the Cockrell School of Engineering will be unable to hire faculty and teaching assistants who are fundamental to student success towards graduation ” and that the “consensus among students is that the hiring of more faculty will improve the quality of education and allow the school to offer more engineering courses.”
Endorsement supports proposal by Dean Roderick Hart to increase student tuition by 2.6 percent for undergraduate students and 3.6 percent for graduate students – amounting to $2,488,000 – and says increase in tuition can make crucial improvements to directly improve four-year graduation rates at the university. Funds from the tuition increase would be allocated to the following:
Increase Faculty For “Bottleneck” Courses: $665,000 per year
Increase Number of Teaching Assistants For Key Courses: $381,000 per year
Hire “Early Warning” Advisors: $180,000 per year
Invest in Faculty, Staff, Hardware, And Software To Increase Online Courses: $860,000
Invest In The Advancement of The Texas Program in Sports Media and the Behavioral Science Research Lab: $402,000
Since forming in December 2010, the College of Liberal Arts CTBAC has made two advisory recommendations, four budget recommendations and two tuition recommendations to CoLA Dean Randy Diehl based on student priorities. The Liberal Arts CTBAC plans on forming two more sets of recommendations during the 2011-12 school year: one on graduation rates and one on ways for the College to save money.
The first advisory recommendations were sent to Diehl on Feb. 7, 2011 and called for:
1. The Dean’s office to send direct updates to students periodically, particularly when new information arrives regarding college budget cuts
2. The Dean’s office to notify CTBAC and students at least two weeks before a decision is to be made regarding cuts to the College’s budget
After taking into account the results of a college-wide student survey and hosting an open meeting and a town hall forum, the CTBAC released its first budget recommendations to Diehl on March 10, 2011. These recommendations are:
1. Preserve the existence of all centers and departments and do not make any decisions based on assumptions
2. Prioritize funding for teaching and research over outreach
3. Reevaluate merit pay increase
4. Encourage efficient use of resources and begin conversations about a responsibility-centered budgeting model
On Tuesday, Oct. 11, the CoLA CTBAC sent two tuition and resource recommendations to Diehl based on student priorities and feedback collected over the course of the semester, including results from a college-wide student survey. Noting that 65 percent of the more than 400 Liberal Arts students who completed the college-wide survey oppose a tuition increase, even when aware an increase could maintain their top priorities, the CTBAC submitted two recommendations regarding the priorities of students and how the college can use its funds to support them should a tuition increase be deemed necessary. Citing students’ top priorities – based on the survey’s results – as top faculty, smaller classes, advising and career services, the CTBAC stated that increasing course availability is the best way to address those priorities. The first recommendation has three components while the second recommendation has two. The recommendations are the following:
1. Improve advising as a way to decrease the time to degree for students and increase four-year graduation rates
a. Create a college-wide registration bar for all Liberal Arts students during each registration period. The registration bar would encourage students to either meet with an adviser or complete an online form. Students will however have the choice to opt out of this bar.
b. Refocus training advisers toward helping students complete their degree in four years
c. Encourage students and provide the resources necessary for creating a personalized four-year graduation plan with an academic adviser. Improved advising will help streamline the course selection process and will decrease the number of students that unknowingly take courses that do not count toward their degree.
2. Make summer courses more valuable to students
a. Provide six complimentary hours of summer coursework for full-time Liberal Arts students. This component would give students the option to take courses at an affordable rate and have the opportunity for more personal experience with the college’s faculty. These hours would be used only once and would not be reoccurring with each summer session.
b. Increase the funding of a summer enrollment program for incoming freshman students, with a specific concentration on students who have little to no college credit upon entering the university. This component would shorten time to degree and can help acclimate students to the scholastic rigor of a tier one research university and expose them to outstanding faculty, while also socially integrating them into the campus. Furthermore, increasing the accessibility of summer courses will improve course availability during the long semesters and therefore decrease time to degree.
Recommendation from the McCombs CTBAC to Provost Steven Leslie regarding possible tuition increase for the 2012 and 2013 school years
Recommendation supports Dean Thomas Giligan’s proposal to use 79 percent of the proposed 2.6 percent in-state and 3.6 percent out-of-state tuition increases to raise $2.18 million to be used for 12 new tenure-track faculty for the school’s undergraduate program at a cost of $2.16 million.
Based on student feedback from both a school-wide survey and a town hall meeting, the CTBAC unanimously recommended that tuition be raised 3.6 percent starting in fall of 2012. Noting that a tuition increase is not necessarily desirable, the CTBAC recommendation states that students find the budget cuts that would have to be made in the absence of a tuition increase much less desirable.
If there is a tuition increase, the CTBAC recommends that adjunct-taught classes – already identified as a prime target for cuts – should be saved wherever possible. The CTBAC’s proposal also notes that students are not entirely opposed to cutting some teaching assistantships. The proposal states that if teaching assistants are being paid but not utilized, then those positions should be either cut or the TAs reassigned to other professors who will derive some benefit from them.
Additionally, the CTBAC strongly recommends the School of Information “make a serious effort to revamp its awards process.” This effort should include “clear and direct communication about the various options for funding students’ iSchool education through loans, scholarships, graduate research assistantships.” According to the CTBAC, the second component of the effort should include a more “visible” and “honest” advertisement of available scholarships and School of Information assistantships.
The final part of the CTBAC’s proposal encourages the long-term idea of giving the School of Information “professional school status” which would allow the school to have more control over its tuition rate.