Editorial: Even small UA tuition hike follows bad trend
UA President Peter Likins' plan to raise tuition above the proposed CPI-plus-one percent increase is a bad idea, though his goal to allocate more funds to professor salaries ought to be taken seriously.
On Monday, Likins released his plan to increase tuition, a plan which is not being supported by ASUA officials. The consumer price index plus one percent is the rate at which tuition ought to increase, and it is the rate increase that ASUA proposed and is hoping Likins will implement.
Likins' proposal exceeds this limit by $25.
While $25 may be a minor increase from the ideal tuition hike, it is a matter or principle that Likins faithfully stick to the CPI plus one percent increase. It is a well-known goal of the UA to keep tuition rates as low as possible, and Likins should respect this goal by adhering to the CPI plus one plan.
True, Arizona universities' tuitions are among the lowest in the nation. But this has allowed more Arizona students access to a college education at an affordable price, and it is an important selling point for bringing in out-of-state students.
Part of Likins' goal in increasing tuition is allocating more funds to professors' salaries in order to promote faculty retention. This is clearly an important plan, for too many quality UA professors feel compelled to leave because their salaries are unfairly low.
However, this goal ought to be pursued separately. It should not rely on the university increasing tuition rates.
It is an Arizona constitutional mandate that in-state university tuition be "as free as possible." As ASUA president Cisco Aguilar said, "The greater the percentage, the further we are getting from 'as free as possible.'"
Furthermore, Likins needs to take seriously ASUA's proposals regarding tuition, being that the student governing body has lobbying power in this specific area.
"(Likins) has listened to us in the past," said Ben Graff, ASUA executive vice president and president-elect. "We are not dealing with a president that keeps a closed and inaccessible door to the students."
Likins and ASUA ought to work together seriously and shake hands on a fair, feasible and permanent tuition-rate increase. They ought to honor the goal of keeping tuition rates as low as possible, for it is an admirable characteristic of Arizona education.
Finally, the UA should seriously consider a plan to increase the retention rate of professors. It ought to be pursued separately from the tuition-rate increase, but it too is an important means of maintaining quality university education in Arizona.
Until the plan to increase tuition is finalized, there will be no consistency or true fairness in any plan that university officials present. ASUA and Likins need determine a plan upon which present and future UA students can depend.