University trustees approved a measure Jan. 20 aimed at making tuition increases more predictable, keeping them in line with inflation.
The new policy creates a framework for setting tuition that strives to keep rates flat, with increases based on inflation.
Other considerations, such as changes in state appropriations to the university, also will be factored into tuition decisions.
The guidelines will make planning easier for university budget officers and ensure affordability for students, said board chairman Christopher Kennedy.
“The board’s hope is to keep tuition flat on an inflation-adjusted basis,” Kennedy said.
“Inconsistent increases and unpredictable timing on when rates will be set hinder short- and long-term planning for students and their families, as well as administrators. This conceptual framework should aid the university in its planning.”
Since 2004, tuition increases have ranged from 2.6 percent to 16 percent. Under the state’s guaranteed tuition law, students pay the same tuition rate — determined before the beginning of their freshman year — for four years.
Tuition rates for next academic year could be set by March 23, the board’s next scheduled meeting.
During the meeting at Student Center West at UIC, trustees also approved some housing rates and student fees for the next academic year.
Student fees will decrease by $15 per semester at UIC, down 1 percent, to $1,449. They will increase $15.70 per semester at UIS, to $873. Trustees decided to postpone discussion of increases to Urbana student assessments until the March meeting, after student trustee Daniel Soso said students had not yet weighed in on the changes.
Housing costs, based on a standard double-occupancy room and 14-meal plan, will increase at Urbana by $366 a semester to $9,452 (4 percent). UIC’s housing rates will rise by $194 per semester to $9,862 (2 percent) and at UIS students will see a $110 to $120 increase per semester (not including a meal plan).
Annual residence hall charges range from $8,922 to $11,424 for undergraduates at Urbana, from $9,526 to $11,278 at UIC, and $6,520 to $9,430 at UIS.
Rates are effective for the upcoming summer semester on all three campuses. Under a new policy, the Urbana campus also will lock in room-and-board rates for up to four years for students who continue to live in campus residence halls, similar to the four-year guarantee on tuition. The room-and-board guarantee is a move to enhance affordability, and make long-range costs more predictable for students and parents, officials said.
Trustees re-elected Kennedy as chairman during the annual election of officers. “It is evident that you have great energy, ability and great love for this institution and higher education generally,” trustee James Montgomery said in nominating Kennedy. “We are amazed at the things that you get done.”
Trustees Edward McMillan and Pamela Strobel were re-elected to serve with Kennedy on the board’s executive committee.
Avijit Ghosh, vice president for technology and economic development, said the university has saved about $3.2 million in the first quarter of fiscal year 2011 through new purchasing agreements. Ghosh reported on the first signs of cost savings since the university implemented an Administrative Review and Restructuring plan in June. The plan seeks to improve services and reduce costs by streamlining business operations.
A new office supply contract could save the university an additional $2.5 million per year, and a new computer contract could save about $1.7 million annually, he said.
“We are progressing along a path to achieve service improvements, as well as significant cost reductions, that will allow us to continue to invest in our core academic missions even in this era of fiscal constraints,” Ghosh said.
The board approved a policy that will allocate a half-percent of the budget for new construction and major renovation projects to be spent on artwork for those buildings. The art-in-architecture program aims to add distinction to each campus’s facilities with paintings, murals, sculptures or ornamental fountains.
The board approved the establishment of the bachelor of science degree in agricultural leadership and science education with concentrations in agricultural science education and agricultural leadership education in the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. As a result of reconfiguring the current agricultural and environmental communications and education major and moving the agricultural communications major to the College of Media, the College of ACES is establishing this new major to ensure the UI continues to educate students to become certified high school teachers of agriculture and to become leaders in non-formal educational roles in agricultural and related fields.
The board also approved the establishment of the Agricultural Leadership and Science Education Program in the College of ACES. The program’s objective is to develop an interdisciplinary agricultural teacher education and leadership program that is nationally recognized for its educational quality, contributions to research and service to the profession. It is proposed to be a collegewide, interdisciplinary program.
Among previous actions by the campus senates that was reported to the board:
The Urbana-Champaign Senate approved a proposal from the Graduate College and the College of Applied Health Sciences to establish a joint degree program with the bachelor of science in health, the bachelor of science in kinesiology, the bachelor of science in community health and the master’s of public health (MPH). The proposal was designed to allow undergraduate students the chance to earn a professional degree in public health with one extra year of education.
The U-C Senate approved a proposal from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research to rename the Institute of Natural Resource Sustainability as the Prairie Research Institute. The proposed name is parallel to similar institutes and gives the diverse, collective research activities an appropriate geographical context and is unique within the university and also a connection to the state.