Public Affairs

September 15, 2006

UA Board of Regents to look at tuition increase

For Immediate Release
Friday, Sept. 15, 2006

A new Bachelor of Arts degree in international studies at the University of Alaska Anchorage; undergraduate technology career specialty certificates in welding, construction and industrial safety at Kodiak College;  and a proposed 7 percent tuition increase top the agenda of the UA Board of Regents, which meets next Thursday and Friday at the UAA campus.
 
The board will take public testimony at approximately 10 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 21, and again at 8 a.m. Friday, Sept. 22.  Board members will take action on the tuition proposal Friday.  The meeting takes place in Room 107 University Commons, on Sharon Gagnon Lane.

UA President Mark Hamilton proposes a base 7 percent increase in tuition starting in fall 2007. He also wants the board to explore various options for additional increments between 1 and 3 percent, with the income dedicated to need-based financial aid.

Each additional 1 percent increase in tuition would yield $750,000 for a need-based program.  For purposes of budget planning, the university’s preliminary budget for fiscal year 2008 assumes a 9 percent tuition increase, but the ultimate decision will be up to the board.

Hamilton said he wants the debate to go beyond simply tuition rates. “We really need to look at the overall question of affordability, and that takes into account a whole host of things, including financial aid and costs associated with room and board, books and fees,” he said. “I expect a robust discussion.”
 
Even with an increase, the UA system would be about in the middle of similar, four-year public universities in the west. Hamilton notes that tuition covers less than 30 percent of direct instructional and student-related costs.  
 
At the base 7 percent, tuition would move from $120 to $128 per credit for lower division courses. Upper division courses would move from the current $135 to $144 per credit, and graduate courses would go from $268 to $287 per credit.  A student taking 16 credits with an even split of upper division and lower division courses would pay $2,176 per semester, compared to the current $2,040.  Rates for Kodiak College and Prince William Sound Community College in Valdez are slightly less. 
 
While the tuition debate is sure to catch attention, the new academic programs also are worthy of attention, said Craig Dorman, vice president of research and academic affairs for the UA system.  The Bachelor of Arts in international studies at UAA would integrate existing courses into a coherent new program that complements other existing degrees and programs at UAA.  It doesn’t duplicate any other degree program within the UA system, Dorman said.

“There’s a growing need for graduates in Alaska who have an understanding of the broader world, with proficiency in more than one language and a keen sensitivity to cross-cultural issues,” Dorman said. “The program also would tap into existing travel-abroad programs and post-graduate opportunities.”
 
The three specialty certificates proposed for Kodiak College will offer education and training opportunities in welding, construction and occupational safety and health.  The programs will share many of the courses already offered at the college as part of an associate’s degree in technology.  
 
“The proposed certificate program answers a direct workforce training need,” Dorman said.
 
Board members also will attend a dedication ceremony for UAA’s new Integrated Sciences building, a much-needed project that recently received final funding from the Legislature and is slated to open by fall 2009, and tour the new canoe-shaped building for the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program at UAA. 
 
Other business includes an early look at the proposed budget for the 2008 fiscal year. The regents take final action on the budget request in November. It then goes to the governor and legislature.  
 
Board members also will review master plans for campuses within UAF’s College of Rural and Community Development.
 
In addition, regents will consider the following regarding UA facilities:
• Formal project approval for a $5.7 million upgrade to the Arctic Health Research Building at UAF. The early 1960s-era building needs new heating and cooling systems, electrical repairs and ceiling lights, among other repairs. It also needs improved communications wiring and equipment storage, as well as renovations aimed at improving laboratories.
• Total project cost increase for the Alaska Cultural Center and Prince William Sound Community College Training Center, at $4.7 million.  This ongoing project will replace inadequate storage of artifacts donated to the college by Maxine Whitney of Fairbanks, as well as provide additional classroom and training space.
• Formal project approval of a $4 million renovation to the Tanana Valley Campus building in downtown Fairbanks, the second phase of an ongoing effort to renovate the entire facility, which once housed Fairbanks district court offices.

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NR12-06
 
To view the agenda, go to www.alaska.edu/bor.
 
For more information, call Kate Ripley at 907/450-8102.

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