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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

None for the money

It doesn’t take a university education to understand the relationship between cost and value, and the cost and value of education is no exception. If the UA administration plans to increase tuition by nearly a third in the next two years, students should demand increased value for that cost.

As reported in the Arizona Daily Star (“”Provost wants tuition to more closely match peers,”” Dec. 6), Provost Meredith Hay plans to increase tuition 53 percent in the next five years. By the Star’s calculations, this would mean a double in tuition costs in ten years.    

This increase, according to Hay, would bring the cost of UA tuition to about the median cost of its peer schools. But while the UA’s “”peer”” schools, institutions like Berkeley and Michigan, have prestige to go along with their inflated price tags, the UA languishes around No. 102 on the U.S. News and World Report’s college rankings.  We shouldn’t be paying a top-twenty price for a bottom-100 school.

In exchange for this tuition increase, undergraduate students will receive fewer classes, opportunities, and programs, not more. The US News ranking is based on all programs, including research and graduate schools, or the UA would probably be even lower on this list.  We’re lucky that the Eller College of Management is so good, because Provost Hay will need some very clever Advertising major to come up with a way to spin this: the one category to which the UA will compare with higher-ranking schools is — that’s right — tuition cost.

In a column in the Star, Eller College of Management professor Shyam Jha proposed that by increasing tuition and making admissions more difficult, the UA could compare favorably to peer schools in more than sticker shock. Jha noted that such a change would relieve budget woes and increase the quality of undergraduate education.

“”There is a continued decline in admission standards,”” Jha wrote. “”The UA accepts 83 percent of applicants, as opposed to 23 percent for UC Berkeley, 37 percent for UNC Chapel Hill (Shelton’s previous institution) and 42 percent at the University of Michigan.””

Jha noted another statistic we shouldn’t be proud of. “”Only 56 percent of UA students graduate within six years of admission, as opposed to 83 percent for Berkeley, 83 percent for UNC and 88 percent for Michigan. Many of the general education classes in the first two years are remedial in nature.””

Jha’s conclusion is that the UA should reduce admissions, increase tuition and stop trying to educate the masses. It is a radical proposal, but much better than seeing no increase in value for the increased tuition we’re bound to see.

Professor Jha eloquently argued, “”By reducing incoming class sizes, we would be able to attract better students, who would end up with better-paying jobs, thus raising the educational reputation of the university.””

UCLA, Berkeley and the University of Virginia are the only public universities in the top 25, on par with private institutions that cost nearly $40,000 dollars per year. Though UC schools recently raised in-state tuition to over $10,000, those colleges provide an education from schools that rank alongside the Ivies. UNC Chapel Hill, a top-ranking state school, is in the top 30 but costs less than the UA’s current in-state tuition.

One thing is sure: UA students will be seeing a significant increase in tuition in the next few years. What remains in question is whether the university will provide students with an increase in anything else.

— Anna Swenson is an English sophomore and the Opinions Editor. Think she’s spot on, or did she totally miss the mark? Send comments and rejoinders to letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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