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Likins' tuition plan adds class availability

By Natasha Bhuyan
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday, February 25, 2005
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President Peter Likins defended his tuition and mandatory fees proposal this week, saying his plan would generate funding for course availability, but student leaders are worried students won't reap the benefits of his proposed tuition increase.

Likins said while the student tuition proposal will generate money for course availability, his potential budget could provide substantially more than that figure, although he would not disclose the amount.

The student tuition proposal allocates $30 per student for course availability, totaling at least $512,000, but Likins said the draft of his fiscal year 2006-07 budget proposal allocates more than $30 per student to the problem.

"The UA budget, now in preliminary draft, shows more newly funded course support than would be generated by $30 (per) student," Likins said.

However, Student Body President Alistair Chapman said unless Likins commits a specific amount of tuition revenue to course availability, he fears the promise will not be fulfilled.

If passed, Likins tuition plan would generate a total of $1.9 million in new tuition revenue.

Likins also said next year's budget plan will address other student concerns, including financial aid, graduate assistant tuition remission and information technology.

In addition to an 11.4 percent increase in tuition for undergraduate residents, Likins' proposal includes a $60 information technology fee, which Likins said was identified as a priority for students in an Associated Students of the University of Arizona tuition survey.

Of the proposed $60 fee, $8 would go to financial aid as required by the state, while the remaining $52 would fund wireless Internet access in public locations, update computer labs on campus and upgrade classroom technology.

Likins said the fee would be spent on those services because, according to the tuition survey, students identified them as the top three places they wanted to see information technology enhancements.

But Chapman said of the overall nine options for campus improvements in the survey, class availability was No. 1, while classroom technology enhancements was No. 3 and information technology was No. 5.

"If you are going to set dollars aside for anything, you need to set aside money for class availability," Chapman said. "It's coming up over and over again, and it needs to be addressed."

Chapman, along with ASUA officials, does not support the information technology fee, and said a problem with the fee is it would not benefit certain students who would be required to pay the fee, such as law students who already have wireless Internet access.

In addition to providing more financial aid, Likins promised to increase graduate research and teaching assistants' tuition waivers from 60 to 70 percent next year, in hopes of reaching full remission in three years.

"Those students will be better off next year than they are currently," Likins said.

But Chapman said the student tuition proposal also allocates money to financial aid and graduate assistant tuition remission, and a bare minimum of $512,000 for course availability.

Meanwhile, Chapman said in the face of course availability issues the "bells and whistles" of an information technology fee are unnecessary.

"While it's nice to have those luxuries, we really need to focus on the foundational problems that all students face," Chapman said. "There are so many problems with (Likins') proposal. ... One thing that our proposal has generated is a lot of talk about course availability."

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