Prof says tuition revenue crisis looms
A U of S biology professor has warned that, despite charging some of the highest tuition rates in the country, this University faces “a downward spiral in tuition revenue … if it hasn’t started already.”
Speaking to a small and seemingly uninterested crowd of lunchtime diners in lower Place Riel Sept. 22, Tracy Marchant said the number of undergraduate students at the U of S has remained flat for the past five years but, more significantly, the number of credit units per student – the measure used to calculate tuition – has fallen. With tuition accounting for an increasing portion of the operating budget each year, she said the institution is “heading for a tuition revenue crisis” that could see the University having “trouble paying its bills”.
And students, who she said some view as “geese with the golden tuition eggs”, are already feeling the effects in that they are not benefiting “as much as you think” from the high tuition they pay. In fact, Marchant claims there are already fewer tenured faculty teaching at the undergraduate level, a reduced number of course offerings, and a shift in University resources “away from undergraduate education. This is what is meant by being ‘research intensive’.”
Her address, entitled Student Tuition Revenue: Is the Golden Goose Healthy?, was the first in the Speak Up! series launched this fall by the U of S Faculty Association (USFA).
Marchant, who is chair of the USFA executive, went on to predict the University will respond to declining revenue by assuming a “corporate governance model and mindset” that will result in cost cutting and increasing tuition. Students need to react by adopting a consumer model that rejects climbing tuition, she said, and she encouraged them to “start shopping around for better prices”.
“I love this institution,” Marchant concluded. “It’s a fantastic place to be, up to now anyway”, but students need to “make some noise” in order to get administration to address the tuition revenue situation.