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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Federal funding cuts hurt grad enrollment

    The spring semester saw a drop of 300 students in graduate programs due to a loss of funding from the federal government, said Rick Kroc, UA assistant vice president for enrollment management.

    Kroc said the graduate schools at the UA had intentionally planned to downsize, especially in the engineering and education programs.

    “”The funding was not there to support the number of students that they could accommodate in the past,”” Kroc said.

    The decrease is the result of an array of budget allocation decisions from the federal government.

    For example, President Bush’s proposed $28.86 billion for the National Institutes of Health, the largest source of money for academic research, reflects a 2 percent drop, or $511 million, from the appropriations Congress is considering for the biomedical-research agency in 2007, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

    Despite the budget constraints, Associated Students of the University of Arizona President Erin Hertzog said increasing enrollment figures for the graduate college should be a priority for the university.

    “”We are a research institution, we have grown considerable in the last 20 years in terms of the graduate population, but I think we need to see more plans to expand even further,”” Hertzog said.

    “”However, we need to keep in mind that that adequate resources need to be made available to both graduates and undergraduates before we agree to admit more students in both programs.””

    The dean of the graduate college and department heads of graduate programs are looking at areas for potential growth, Kroc said.

    “”The root of the problem has to do with funding, if we aren’t able to get the kind of research grants to support our students then we can’t admit more,”” Kroc said.

    The federal government’s funding cuts for graduate programs has effected a number of institutions.

    “”Institutions are less likely to increase numbers because of that,”” Kroc said.

    However, undergraduate enrollment was higher than expected by 100 students this spring because students who intended to graduate in December decided to postpone their graduation until this May, he said.

    Kroc said spring enrollment was roughly what his department expected.

    Overall, there are 3,000 less students in the spring because of December graduation.

    However, funding for the whole year depends on fall enrollment so the small fluctuations are irrelevant, Kroc said.

    But the UA still aims to increase its enrollment figures, especially in the number of transfers from other colleges.

    David Irwin, the executive director for public information at Pima Community College, said last fall, the UA saw a record-breaking number of 800 transfer students fromPCC. PCC is still actively trying to increase the number of transfer students from PCC to the UA, Irwin said.

    “”Rather than looking at the two, UA and Pima, as competitors, we are working on a cooperative marketing plan – we are trying to make it so we are seen as a team helping students to gain a four-year degree,”” he said.

    The UA has also implemented a full-time counselor at the university to help assist transfer students in their process to the UA.

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