Saying they are having a hard time offering the necessary courses students need to graduate on time, University of Connecticut officials are considering a 5.8 percent increase in tuition and fees for in-state students next year.
“I’ve had students crying in my office. We get so much email on a daily basis, and the provost probably gets even more than I get, from students who cannot get the courses they need to graduate,” UConn President Susan Herbst said Monday when introducing the increase she is considering to UConn employees and students.
“We’ve got to boost the number of faculty.”
A 5.8 percent increase would get the university 70 new faculty.
The university managed to increase tuition by just 2.5 percent from last year to the current school year, adhering to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s request to not increase tuition more than inflation. But Richard Gray, UConn’s budget chief, said that replicating that for a second year would put the system in jeopardy.
“We would begin to deteriorate,” he said. Another 2.5 percent increase would only get the university an additional $900,000 for faculty after closing the anticipated multi-million dollar deficit.
Figures show that the university has not kept up with hiring faculty as enrollment skyrocketed. Over the last 15 years, enrollment increased by 53 percent while faculty increased by a modest 16 percent.
“We need to make an investment in faculty,” Gray said, pointing to a chart in the auditorium that shows UConn has one of the worst student-to-faculty ratios when compared with peer universities.
Herbst said she also worries that this reality — that many students cannot get the classes they need — will begin to affect the university’s high rankings.
“Now that we are in the top 20 (according to U.S. News & World Report rankings) … we want to stay there,” Herbst said.
A 5.8 percent increase in tuition and fees for undergraduates translates to a hike of $620 from the current years rate of $11,290. With room and board added, the cost is $22,430, a 4.4 percent increase overall. Gray said this increased tuition could be avoided if the state decided to send UConn more money. For every $1 million, tuition increases could be staved off by 0.2 percent.
But, he said, “We need to not kid ourselves” that increased funding is likely. State officials earlier this year approved a sizable cut in the amount it gives UConn for its operating budget over this year and next to help close the state’s deficit.
Any tuition increase will need to be approved by UConn’s board of Trustees. A forum on the 5.8 percent option will be held at UConn’s Storrs campus Thursday.
A spokeswoman for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said his office is reviewing all of the options “with an eye on continuing to keep high quality education available and accessible to all students.”