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Tuition increases approved

The University of North Carolina Board of Governors has approved a package of tuition and fees that will raise costs by an average of $401 for in-state, undergraduate students next fall. While all 16 campuses sought to increase tuition by the 6.5 percent maximum set by the governing board, the impact differs based on the size of fee increases and whether administrators elected to spread out an increase approved last year.

The largest jump next fall will come for undergraduates at Fayetteville State University, where the combination of higher tuition and fees will raise costs by about 18 percent to $4,084 next fall. Tuition and fees will go up $606 at UNC Asheville, $481 at N.C. State University, and $189 at Elizabeth City State University.

Outside of the building where the board was meeting, about 20 students marched in protest of the increases. Student Laurel Ashton of Asheville said spiraling higher education costs mean she will have to spend more time working at a deli and a second job, and to take out more loans that will put her under financial stress after she graduates.

UNC System President Tom Ross said the top priority of university leaders remains keeping education affordable through low tuition and adequate financial aid. State legislators are trying to cut a projected state budget shortfall of about $3 billion for the fiscal year beginning in July. UNC officials are bracing for cuts of up to $400 million on top of $620 million slashed in the past four years. “We must avoid any permanent damage to the university,” Ross said, and “lessen the long term impact of this recession and the related budget cuts.”(THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, 2/11/11).

Cut Programs
The University of North Carolina system has eliminated 60 underperforming academic programs across the state. The system commonly shuts down low enrollment programs every two years. However, it is rare for so many programs to get the ax at once. And in many cases over the years, just as many new programs are approved as are eliminated. That wasn’t the case this year.

On Friday, just three new programs won approval. “We’ve gotten more aggressive about it now, and have forced our institutions to really look at their missions,” said Hannah Gage, chairwoman of the UNC system’s Board of Governors. The system killed off low-enrollment programs producing few graduates.

NCCU lost about a dozen programs in areas like art, education, physical education, chemistry, French, history and physics. That doesn’t mean those disciplines have been wiped out. Rather, many are sub-specialties that may now be combined with other disciplines. Seven programs were eliminated at UNC Charlotte, including teacher licensure programs in English, French, German and Spanish.

These can still be offered in other ways, said Chancellor Phil Dubois. Those programs each had just a few students. At UNC-Chapel Hill, officials cut four programs, including a well-regarded doctoral program in linguistics serving just a handful of students, said Chancellor Holden Thorp. “It’s a distinguished program, but you don’t get any economies of scale,” he said. “There are people in linguistics around the country pretty irritated with me.”

It’s difficult to calculate the savings derived from the discontinued programs because some of their courses are still needed, and in many cases, faculty members remain to teach other disciplines. But officials expect to save money in the future as campuses operate more efficiently.

Friday’s eliminations come with the UNC system on the cusp of a broad, campus-by-campus analysis to root out unnecessary duplication within academic programs.(THE NEWS & OBSERVER, 2/12/11).

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