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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Regents target funding disparity

The UA currently ranks the highest in funding per student compared to the other Arizona public universities, although the state is trying to fix that.

Lawmakers approved a proposal presented by the Arizona Board of Regents to give $15.3 million total to Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University to fix a disparity among the three institutions during a Senate committee meeting on March 8.

The proposal was created after the state required the board to calculate the average funding per student and discovered a $75 million disparity among the three universities. During a September board meeting in Flagstaff, state university presidents developed a plan to fix the disparity in five years that would help equalize funding per student among the three universities.

“What is important to note is that the three universities worked very closely and were in complete consensus with the solution they came up with,” said Sarah Harper, director of public affairs for the board. “The whole idea is to get on equal footing.”

In 2011, the board gave the Legislature a report that showed the disparity. The UA receives $6,598 per student, $896 more than ASU’s per-student funding and $758 more than NAU’s.

The proposal will help fund technology improvements and course redesign for the two universities, as well as support expansion. ASU and NAU have continued to build up their campuses over the past 10 years, and they will need the additional funds to continue to do so. The UA doesn’t have the same opportunities for growth, however, given the limits of its surroundings.

“The space limitations on our landlocked campus are a major factor in moderating the potential enrollment growth at the UA,” said UA President Eugene Sander in a statement. “The UA has experienced steady enrollment growth in the past decade and I expect that it will continue.”

Board members also asked the Legislature to give more per-student funding to NAU and ASU due to their significant enrollment growth paired with a decrease in state funding, said Dan Fitzgibbon, chairman of the Arizona Students’ Association and a business economics senior. This comes at a time when the board is examining performance-based funding that would link state funding with gains in certain performance metrics. This would allow the Legislature to give universities funds for more targeted goals, like enrollment.

“I worry that we will be pushing students out of the university that are not ready to compete in the global market,” said Blaise Caudill, NAU’s executive council president. “But I do see the value in what they are trying to do and it is something we need to work on.”

Although the five-year plan would not give the UA extra per-student funds, it would not take away funding either.

“Under no circumstances are people going to be OK with hacking off the top portions of the UA budget and distributing it to the other universities so there is equal funding per student,” Fitzgibbon said. “They want equal funding without cuts to the UA.”

In addition to fixing the disparity, the board is also asking the Legislature to give $9 million to $15 million to the UA’s College of Medicine Phoenix Campus, according to Associated Students of the University of Arizona President James Allen.

“If NAU and ASU are going to get new money, we should also agree to fund the UA medical campus in Phoenix, which has been taken out of the disparity equation as it is recognized as being more expensive,” Allen said.

The disparity report did not address how much funding the UA receives for either of its medical schools or the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, as most of their funds are operated on a land grant. There are other funding sources for these, however.

“The UA does receive additional funding sources by virtue of operating the state’s only medical, agriculture and pharmacy colleges, and for maintaining a presence in every county in the state,” Sander said.

Funding per student

$6,598
UA

$5,702
ASU

$5,840
NAU

Source: Arizona Board of Regents

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