‘We need to invest in UND’

UND finds sympathetic voices among student leaders regarding proposed tuition rate hikes

This week, UND forwarded to the State Board of Higher Education proposed tuition rates for 2017-18 that adheres to the 4-perecent ceiling mandate for in-state undergraduates and extends that same rate of increase to nonresident undergrads as well. The Board will consider UND’s proposals, along with those from the other North Dakota University System institutions, at its May 15 meeting in Bismarck. UND archival photo.

This week, UND forwarded to the State Board of Higher Education proposed tuition rates for 2017-18 that adhere to the 4-percent ceiling mandate for in-state undergraduates and extends that same rate of increase to nonresident undergrads as well. The Board will consider UND’s proposals, along with those from the other North Dakota University System institutions, at its May 15 meeting in Bismarck. UND archival photo.

UND student Theresa Hanley is one voice in a growing chorus on campus that’s not buying into a gloom-and-doom outlook on proposed tuition increases for the 2017-18 academic year.

Hanley, a freshman political science and pre-law major from Elizabethtown, Pa., served this past year on the University’s Student Senate and is among those who support University proposals to raise tuition to levels authorized by the North Dakota State Legislature.

Theresa Hanley

Theresa Hanley

Legislation out of Bismarck set UND’s tuition cap for next year at 4 percent for in-state undergraduates and no limit on nonresidents. Tuition rate increases also were not capped for students in UND’s graduate programs and the School of Law.

This week, UND forwarded to the State Board of Higher Education proposed tuition rates for 2017-18 that adhere to the 4-percent ceiling mandate for in-state undergraduates and extends that same rate of increase to nonresident undergrads as well. The Board will consider UND’s proposals, along with those from the other North Dakota University System institutions, at its May 15 meeting in Bismarck.

UND also has proposed dedicating 1 percent of its increases to help address about $500 million in deferred maintenance needs across campus.

Hanley said that student leaders were well aware of UND’s desire to use a slice of tuition increases for infrastructure needs when they passed a tuition resolution earlier this semester.

“UND is investing in us, and we need to invest in UND,” Hanley said. “I feel that my professors and this University have given me a lot of opportunities, and even though I’m just in my first year here, I can’t imagine what’s ahead.

“Even though no one likes tuition increases, if we want UND to be here in 20 years, we need to take care of the maintenance issues. If you don’t fix the roof now, you may not have a library later.”

Room to grow

UND President Mark Kennedy, in his recent “One UND” Strategic Plan rollout, showed data that suggests the University’s current average tuition has some room for growth when compared to regional competitors such as the University Minnesota Duluth (UMD) and the University of Minnesota Twin Cities (UM).  UND’s average in-state tuition for 2016-17 sits at just over $8,100, compared with $13,100 at UMD and $14,200 at UM.

Also, data indicates that UND currently has a much smaller differential between undergraduate and graduate rates of tuition than its peer and aspirational institutions. UND hopes to close that gap with higher proposed bumps in its graduate rates.

Under UND’s current proposal, an in-state undergraduate would pay $267 more for an academic year, while a full year’s tuition for a nonresident undergrad would increase about $713.

For most graduate students, UND is proposing a 7-percent increase in tuition, which equates to about a $500 increase for an academic year.

Other proposed increases for UND include 4 percent for programs with separately approved rates within the School of Medicine and Health Sciences (for example, occupational therapy and physical therapy), and 9 percent at the School of Law, which, even at that rate, would make it the second least expensive law school in the nation and would remain below the graduate tuition rate.

One area, in particular, where UND is striving to save its students money is in Open Educational Resources (OER). Quite simply, this is making text books and other classroom tools more widely and more cheaply available through the use of online technology. UND archival photo.

One area, in particular, where UND is striving to save its students money is in Open Educational Resources (OER). Quite simply, this is making textbooks and other classroom tools more widely and more cheaply available through the use of online technology. UND archival photo.

Offsetting hikes

One area, in particular, where UND is striving to save its students money is in Open Educational Resources (OER). Quite simply, this is making textbooks and other classroom tools more widely and more cheaply available through the use of online technology.

“We’re conscious about the cost of an education on our students,” Kennedy said. “Our embrace of OER has been not only the best in North Dakota but I think it’s been the best in the country.”

The University estimates that it already has saved students as much as $1 million in textbook costs through OER, and because of enhancements in the initiative, there could be an additional $4 million in savings next year.

“That could completely offset whatever the increase in tuition might be for our undergrad students,” Kennedy said.

First impression

Kennedy has said he’d like to use 1 percent of the proposed tuition increases to set up a capital fund that would allow the University to chip away at its deferred maintenance needs by focusing on things such as roof repairs, electrical upgrades and new curbs and gutters – things that alumni and private sector donors aren’t keen on giving to. A portion of the fund also could be used as matching money to work in concert with other entities on bigger projects.

Cole Bachmeier

UND Student Body President Cole Bachmeier

This vision would go a long way in paving the way for Kennedy’s “Coulee to Columbia” initiative, which proposes a host of private, public and University partnerships to revitalize the heart of campus.

Sprucing up the main campus corridor also could lead to more people wanting to be part of UND, according to Mike Pieper, associate vice president for facilities.

Pieper says that surveys show that as many as 70 percent of prospective students rank the quality of campus facilities as a “significant” factor in whether they enroll. Other studies have suggested undecided students make up their minds within 4 to 7 minutes of their first impression of a campus.

Incoming UND Student Body President Cole Bachmeier, like Hanley, also is sympathetic to the funding plight of the University, even if it might mean digging deeper into his own pockets.

“No one likes raising their own expenditures, but we see the need for it,” said Bachmeier, a junior in chemical engineering from Fargo.

Bachmeier added that he appreciates that UND Vice President for Finance & Operations Alice Brekke has routinely included him and Student Body Vice President Erik Hanson in important conversations and listened to their thoughts, concerns and questions.

“She’s been willing to sit down with us and explain the vision moving forward,” Bachmeier said. “We see the necessity of the tuition increases to take care of deferred maintenance. The campus is in dire need of some fixes.”

 

Share this post: