The Arizona Board of Regents made some good decisions at its meeting last week, decisions that were made with the students' interests in mind:

Regents raised tuition for 1994-95 by $50 for in-state students and by $150 for non-residents at all three Arizona universities. While a few knees will jerk for students who don't want to pay even as much as they pay now, this year's tuition hike is reasonable and may prevent the need for more painful increases in the years to come.

The board also tightened admission standards for freshmen entering Arizona universities in 1998. The new rules require new students to have 16 units, instead of 11, of college-preparation courses in high school. This move will help to curb the ever-growing enrollment and make sure entering freshmen are ready for university-level work. While higher standards indeed will exclude some Arizona high school graduates from entering universities, those students can do lower-level work in Arizona's fine community college system and transfer later.

Regents deserve kudos when they do a good job. But while the aforementioned decisions were good ones, they were not issues in which the interests of students and those of administrators differed significantly.

That is not the case with the issue of program cuts. To date, 26 departments and programs face some sort of forced change under a plan from a university-wide committee. The recommendations must be approved by Provost Paul Sypherd and university President Manuel T. Pacheco before regents have the final say. But Sypherd and Pacheco already seem set on the cuts, and that means the regents are the last hope of students.

It is true that some program cuts may be necessary, and some of the committee's suggestions are reasonable _ the University of Arizona could probably do without a physical education program, for instance. However, other departments on the chopping block are among the best in the country and deserve to continue serving students.

The real problem isn't cutting programs. It is the way the university is going about it. Committees made up mostly of administrators, with minimal student input, have decided the UA will save money by destroying academic programs.

The best way to approach program cuts would be a statewide planning process that involved the regents along with administrators, faculty, staff and students from all three universities. That way, students would have a say in the decisions while the quality of the university system as a whole could be protected. When all three universities have identical programs, the weaker ones could be cut and the stronger protected.

Instead, with all decisions made at the university level by administrative committees, students must merely hope that the university has their interests at heart.

It's too late to do this right, of course. But the regents have a choice. They can rubber-stamp the plans, or they can listen to the students who already have come forward to speak against the UA's secretive decision-making _ which always seems to ask students to sacrifice first. Read Next Article