Saturday, October 08, 2005

Who Will Stand Up for Affordable Education?

by Kyle Michaelis
I know budget cuts by the state in 2002 put an incredible burden on the Univesity of Nebraska, some of which had to be born by the students. But, quite frankly, tuition costs have gotten out of control, and it's just plain pathetic that no one will stand up and say so.

Students, by large, are so brow-beaten and crippled by apathy that they have pretty much resigned themselves to an endless series of tuition hikes. Meanwhile, the collective wisdom of the state legislature and the Board of Regents demonstrates so little concern for maintaining quality AND affordability in higher education as to constitute a complete dereliction of their duties to the state.

Tuition at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has more than doubled in the last decade. How is that in any way, shape, or form reasonable or acceptable to the people of Nebraska, as the state's premier research facility and engine of economic development becomes less and less accessible to the everyday citizen who doesn't want to take on endless debt just to earn a simple but so very essential undergraduate degree?

Read about the future prospects for this on-going joke of a public policy that won't have anyone laughing a few years from now, and marvel at the lack of outrage, courtesy of the AP:
The University of Nebraska hopes to keep tuition increases between 8 and 9 percent in the next two school years, President James B. Milliken said Friday.

Milliken, along with the chancellors of the university’s four campuses and the Board of Regents set tentative tuition benchmarks on Friday, agreeing tuition should not increase more than 9 percent from fiscal year 2006-2007 and 8 percent for the following fiscal year.

Between 2002 and this year, tuition increased more than 45 percent. The tuition increase for the current year is 5 percent, below the 7.1 percent national average increase for large, public universities, the board said.

The tuition figures are targets and help the university plan its future, said Howard Hawks, chairman of the board.

“We hope to hold tuition at or below these targets, but realistically we may need to revisit them over time,” Hawks said.

The university said it hopes to balance trying to make attendance affordable while dealing with rising costs of utilities, health care, inflation and attracting faculty, among other challenges.

Friday’s planning session also involved setting benchmarks for aggressive growth in funding for federal research and enrollment increases.

Ha...and then the University wonders why its enrollment is down. Simple - precisely because of this "realistic" leadership by the likes of Hawks so lacking in vision that it is an insult to 100 years of tradition and the entire idea of the land-grant university.

Please note the subtle deception in the above article's opening paragraph that seems to suggest tuition hikes of 8 or 9% over the next two years, as opposed to the actual plan for raising it that much EACH of the next two years. That's a hike of almost 18% over two years, and the University refuses to commit even to restraining itself to this embarrassing level of theft from students and their parents.

Around and around and around we go - the rich get richer, the poor get stupider with fewer opportunities, and no one makes a peep.

A country (or state) without the foresight to invest in its future doesn't have a future. And rightfully so.


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