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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Funding sends mixed message

The Arizona Board of Regents is reviewing proposals made by state universities to change the spread of state funding across the three universities. The current system allots a dollar amount to each university per student. How the dollar amount is allocated may also change based on academic performances, thereby creating a competitive atmosphere among the universities.  

While there is plenty of competition in the academic arena, I’m not so convinced that competing for state funding is such a great strategic plan. While competition is healthy, it’s best reserved for sport. Universities competing to get more funding will only create a vicious winners-and-losers scenario, where students are left behind.

If universities become hell-bent on besting their in-state competitors, then they’ll be reluctant to accept some students who are not exactly the cream of the crop. While university admissions should never be handed out on a silver platter to just anyone, there are still plenty of middle-of-the-road scholars who deserve their shot at success through education. In this scenario, every admissions application is transformed into a risk assessment form for a university to evaluate.

There is also a proposal to change the disparity of funds appropriated to the universities. Currently, the UA receives $6,322 per student, while NAU receives $5,593 and ASU receives $5,484. A plan proposed by NAU President John Haeger aims to slightly increase funding to NAU and ASU over roughly five years to match that of the UA’s, but it’s more likely UA funding will be cut to set it even with ASU and NAU.  

While it’s difficult to argue that the disparities in spending per student are justified, there can still be some sense to them. The UA is not nearly as large of a school as ASU, so evening the spending between the two by increasing ASU’s funding would be outrageously costly to the state. NAU is a much smaller school with far smaller operating costs, so it’s also hard to qualify more funding per student. Ultimately, increasing the funding per student at NAU and ASU just doesn’t make sense. On the contrary, that doesn’t mean that hacking away senselessly is any better.

On one hand, we have a proposal seeking to create a  “”survival of the fittest”” model for doling out state funding, while on the other, we’re looking at a proposal to lower one university’s funding so that it may be even with the others. The proposals set before the regents have two entirely different tones. It’s as though the universities and the board are trying to create a clear-cut outcome of winners and losers, while giving every university a consolation trophy for playing along. Although the final outcome is unclear, both ideas are going to ultimately harm not only the UA, but all of Arizona’s universities.  

­­­­­—Storm Byrd is the Summer Wildcat perspectives editor. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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