Trustees vote to increase tuition, support health initiative
Faced with budgetary deficits for energy costs and concerns about retaining faculty members, maintaining educational quality and a looming shortage of health-care professionals, the UI Board of Trustees voted to raise tuition and fees for the 2008-09 academic year and to endorse a resolution that called for establishing a dedicated stream of funding for educating doctors, nurses and other medical professionals.
Tuition for new students this fall will increase by $401 at Urbana, to $4,621; by $353 at the Chicago campus, to $4,065; and by $428 at Springfield, to $3,608, per semester. The 9.5 percent increase will apply to incoming students who are Illinois residents and will be guaranteed for four years in accordance with the Illinois Truth-in-Tuition law. The trustees approved the new tuition and fee rates at their March 26 meeting in Urbana.
Student fees will increase by $92 at Urbana, to $1,494; by $32 at UIC, to $1,593; and by $58 at UIS, to $932, per semester. Fees cover student health and counseling, facility repair and renovation, student programming and other services.
Student fees and room-and-board rates are not guaranteed and may change from year to year to cover inflation and higher operating costs. The trustees approved increases in the room and board rates at all three campuses during their Jan. 17 meeting at Chicago.
Several trustees expressed concern about the impact of the tuition and fee increases on students and their families, but generally agreed that the increases were necessary to ensure academic quality because of rising operating costs and stagnant state appropriations.
“Higher education provides the state of Illinois with the human and intellectual capital to compete successfully in the global economy,” President B. Joseph White said in a news release. “In a challenging economy, we must retain and attract top faculty in a competitive academic marketplace. We must also maintain our physical infrastructure that the citizens of Illinois have invested in for well over a century.”
Trustee Robert Sperling suggested that the UI consider admitting more out-of-state students, who pay double the tuition that Illinois residents pay, and use the additional revenue to supplement financial aid programs for in-state students.
The trustees also approved a resolution seeking $150 million in new, dedicated operating funds to support education at UIC’s six health-care related colleges – medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, nursing, applied health sciences and the School of Public Health – over the next five years.
The resolution supported “Healthy Returns – the Illinois Bill of Health,” a statewide initiative launched by UIC in March 2005 to gain a dedicated stream of state funding for medical education, separate from the higher education budget. The resolution requested $22 million in new funds, beginning in 2013, to help the UIC medical school expand its enrollment by 20 percent, or 65 additional students per class, over four years.
Trustee Kenneth Schmidt, who spoke to reporters during a break in the meeting, said that the shortage of nurses and similar health-care workers “is desperate now,” and is projected to escalate in coming years. A shortage of faculty members to teach nursing students resulted in about 43,000 qualified students being turned away from nursing schools last year, Schmidt said.
The Association of American Medical Colleges has projected that by 2020 there will be a shortage of 24,000 physicians across the U.S., as a result of physicians retiring and a dramatic increase in the elderly population as the baby boom generation ages. The AAMC has recommended that the U.S. boost medical school enrollments nationwide by 30 percent.
While the UIC College of Medicine graduates more physicians than any medical college in the U.S., “we are funded at the bottom of the Big Ten for our state commitment per student. Southern Illinois University gets four times the funding we do,” Schmidt said, referring to an annual report published by AAMC.
“This is not a higher education problem; it’s a state of Illinois problem. The cost of educating (heath professionals) is much higher than educating (liberal arts and sciences students),” Schmidt said. “It’s a lot of money in tight budgetary times; we know that.
“But we fall further behind each year in both operating funds and facilities for educating health-care professionals because it costs more to educate them than the tuition the market will bear.”
The UIC College of Medicine enrolls 1,390 students, 796 of them at Chicago, and administers regional medical schools at Urbana-Champaign, Peoria and Rockford. The UIC College of Medicine had more than 7,000 applicants for its class of 325 students that will begin in September, Schmidt said.
Statistics indicate that physicians educated in Illinois tend to remain in the state after graduation, Schmidt added.
The board approved proposals redesignating the College of Communications the College of Media, redesignating the department of speech communication the department of communication, and redesignating the I-Building as the Forbes Natural History Building in honor of Stephen A. Forbes, the first director of the Illinois Natural History Survey.
The board approved preliminary designs for the National Center for Supercomputing Applications’ petascale computing facility, a 93,000-square-foot building to be constructed near the intersection of St. Mary’s Road and Oak Street in Champaign. The design team, composed of representatives from EYP Mission Critical Facilities and the architectural firm Ginsler and Associates, told the board that the building will be capable of withstanding an F3 tornado. The budget for construction of the building was set at $47.6 million, and is being funded with a mixture of institutional and state money and certificates of participation.
The Urbana campus is developing a Division of Biomedical Science, which will coalesce the efforts of about 150 UI faculty members who are doing biomedical translational research, in conjunction with the UIC College of Medicine. The division will strive to gain recognition for Illinois’ biomedical research capabilities and has been deemed essential to the Urbana campus’s long-term success as a research institution, said Linda Katehi, provost at Urbana. Katehi and Chancellor Richard Herman discussed Urbana’s plans and priorities and progress toward its strategic objectives, including the new division.
The division probably will be led by a yet-to-be-named director and an executive board, which will comprise deans from various colleges on campus and a representative from the UIC College of Medicine.
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