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Regents debate entrance criteria

By Keren G. Raz & Jeff Sklar
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday March 6, 2003

The Arizona Board of Regents might not only approve the highest tuition increase in UA's history at today's meeting, but it will also consider major changes to board policy that will give the universities more authority to decide who they accept.

The universities want the regents to guarantee admissions only to those students in the top 25 percent of their high school's graduating class.

Anyone else will be evaluated on a more individual basis.

Currently, students in the top 25 percent of their class, who score at least a 22 on the ACT or a 1040 on the SAT, or have at least a 3.0 cumulative high school GPA have been automatically admitted to Arizona universities.

Students with a 2.5 GPA or who fall in the top 50 percent of their class are admitted to the university with conditions attached.

Patti Ota, senior vice president, will outline tomorrow how students attending high schools where they are not ranked will no longer be guaranteed automatic admission to the universities. Instead, each university will review students on an individual basis.

At the January board meeting, the regents saw a proposal that stated if a school does not rank its students, then any student with a GPA over 3.25 would be guaranteed admission also.

But Ota said that proposal was rejected because administrators do not want parents to encourage high schools to drop class ranking.

At some schools students with a 3.25 GPA are not in the top 25 percent of their class, she said.

Also, the universities want to change the policy that guarantees admissions to students who lack one of the regents' course requirements such as four years of English and two years of a foreign language.

The universities want to eliminate that concept in order to encourage students to complete all their requirements, Ota said.

"These changes aren't about making admissions policy more stringent," Ota said. "It's to get around the problem of having our policy shape what other people are doing."

Regent Robert Bulla said he supports the idea of granting the universities more flexibility in managing admissions.

If growth happens in the future, the universities will need more flexibility to manage it, he said.

"I think (changes) are probably a necessity because of the demographics that are going to hit the university in a decade or so," Bulla said.

But not everyone is convinced that changing admissions standards is the best idea.

Paul Luljak, an electrical engineering senior, said if he had been evaluated using the proposed changes to admissions standards, he might not have been admitted to the UA because he wasn't in the top 25 percent of his class.

"It's good for the university, but it's not necessarily good for students," he said.

Kathy Weeks, a counselor at Mountain Ridge High School in Glendale, said she worries that her students who have between a 3.0 and a 3.6 GPA will not be admitted because they are not in the top 25 percent of their class.

However, she said that, in the long run, the changes could benefit everyone.

"I have seen students admitted to the universities with deficiencies and thought they'd be better off admitted to a community college," she said.

Board of Regents president Jack Jewett said that the regents will hold the universities accountable for ensuring universities are accessible to in-state students.

Tomorrow the regents will discuss ways to hold universities accountable, which include evaluating data that show whether access has decreased and requiring that the universities submit reports that document who the universities reject and accept.

The regents will also vote today on proposed residence hall fee increases, ranging from an additional $179 for many halls to $747 for Apache-Santa Cruz Residence Hall.

The UA is requesting the increases to cover higher hall utility, maintenance and debt services costs.

The proposal has won the approval of the Residence Hall Association, and has met with little opposition from dorm residents, said Aaron Ronn, RHA's vice president for public affairs.

Ronn said he had not heard anyone complain about the proposed increase, and most people he talked to understood the need for the hike.

"People talk about tuition all the time, but nobody has mentioned anything to me about residence life housing," Ronn said.

Part of the proposed increase will go toward improving the residence halls' recycling program, which was cut back last year due to funding cuts, said RHA President Michael Miller.

Under the proposed rates, the average residence hall rate would rise to $3,507, a 7.4 percent increase from this year. The Del Puente Residence Hall, part of the Highland Commons construction project off East Sixth Street, will charge residents $3,813.

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