March 10, 2011
Latest Higher Education Budget Cuts will Affect Tuition
SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Commissioner of Higher Education, Bill Sederburg, expressed appreciation to the legislature today for keeping budget cuts to colleges and universities to approximately 2%. Sederburg says, “We are disappointed the legislature didn’t follow the Governor’s lead in keeping our budget to last year’s levels. However, the budget reductions are far less than the original 7% at the start of the session, as well as far less than those discussed in other states.” Sederburg adds, “Also, the legislature was very supportive of many of our policy initiatives.”
The original 7% cut equaled about $50M, a reduction with serious consequences to all of the state’s institutions. Now, the budget reductions of 2 to 2.5% (totaling roughly $18M), coupled with enrollment increases and the need to maintain quality, will force moderate tuition increases. According to Sederburg, “My goal is to limit tuition increases to what is absolutely necessary to respond to the needs of the state and not hurt quality. We are in the process of determining our recommendation to the Board of Regents in late March.”
Throughout the session, higher education officials were appreciative of the hard work and consideration from the Legislature, especially to restore most of the money after the initial 7% cut. Commissioner William Sederburg said, “We realize that the cuts this year could have been more, however, any cuts to higher education create a significant impact and this will be our fourth year of having to do more with less.” Just last year, higher education faced a 12% cut to the base budget.
Higher education officials are appreciative of policy advances that will benefit Utah’s colleges and universities. Mission Based Funding for institutions, online concurrent enrollment courses and data integration initiatives were all successes during the session, as were the passing of Higher Education Success Stipend (SB107) and Utah Educational Savings Plan Amendments (SB145) bills. Additionally, the defeat of HB485 to eliminate tenure for professors was also a success for higher education this year.
Earlier this year, the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education, along with other state agencies and business leaders, began a major push to have 66% of Utah’s workforce with post-secondary training or degree by the year 2020. This 66% is what the workforce of the State of Utah will require in order to achieve economic prosperity for the future. Commissioner Sederburg notes, “While we are grateful for the funding for our state colleges and universities will receive this year, at some point very soon we need our state to invest money in higher education if we want Utah’s economy to thrive.”
About The Utah System of Higher Education: USHE includes all of Utah’s eight public colleges and universities: The University of Utah, Utah State University, Weber State University, Southern Utah University, Snow College, Dixie State College, Utah Valley University and Salt Lake Community College. For more information on the Utah System of Higher Education, visit our website at http://www.higheredutah.org.
# # #Posted by: psilberman