Regents want broad student approval before tuition increase

Posted: 09/16/09

Student approval will be crucial if UW-Eau Claire expects them to approve raising differential tuition rates, members of the UW System’s Board of Regents said Thursday in Davies Center.

UW-Eau Claire Chancellor Brian Levin-Stankevich and a handful of students fielded questions from the Regents’ Budget, Finance and Audit Committee about the university’s “Blugold Commitment.” Coupled with general education reform, the Commitment would allow UW-Eau Claire to enhance education and for students to graduate in four years, Levin-Stankevich said.

The Blugold Commitment proposes raising annual differential tuition rates by between $1,000 and $2,500 per student over four years.

“If our average now is over five years to graduate and we can get the average down to less than five years or four years – even at a higher cost per year with a higher differential tuition . the cost of the degree becomes less,” Levin-Stankevich said.

The Commitment aims in part to increase the number of faculty at UW-Eau Claire, said Adam Sorelle, director of the Student Senate Academic Affairs Commission.

Brent Smith, chair of the Budget, Finance and Audit Committee, asked where student input on the issue was coming from – only from Student Senate or from the broader campus population.

Sorelle responded by saying Student Senate members had interviewed students and that The Spectator had written about the Blugold Commitment.

But Sorelle said parts of the proposal haven’t been finalized yet, including just how much differential tuition rates will increase under the Commitment. He said the university must solidify details, including costs, before it can gauge overall student opinion.

“We’re not really right now asking for student feedback because I think those conversations may be a little premature,” Sorelle said.

Some of the money raised through the commitment would provide need-based aid and enhance programs such as international and intercultural experiences, internships and student-faculty research.

Levin-Stankevich told committee members Thursday the university was not putting forward a formal proposal on the Blugold Commitment yet. The Board of Regents’ next scheduled meeting will be Dec. 10 and 11 at UW-Madison, where Levin-Stankevich said he’d like to present the full proposal.