OPINION: Gov. Ducey's budget plan leaves UA with few options
In January, Gov. Doug Ducey released his 2019 budget, with proposed funding for higher education maintained, not dropped.
The best part of his proposal is the $8 million given to each state university with zero strings attached. This money is incredibly useful for the schools as they will be able to maintain a standard of student life without having to drastically increase tuition, right?
While this $8 million seems wonderful, it is actually a decrease in what the universities were given this year. For 2018, the state universities were allotted $15 million to spend however they like.
It is likely tuition will increase for students at Arizona universities. The University of Arizona is trying to admit more students to keep tuition costs down, but that isn’t a long-term solution. There are already not enough class times and not enough classrooms.
The UA cannot realistically sustain thousands more freshmen each year without hiring new staff and potentially expanding the campus. New staff and buildings require funding, which there isn’t enough of.
Higher admissions ratings will also lower the exclusivity of the UA. While the UA is a large-state university, it is a respectable school with thousands of graduates going on and getting high paying and important jobs right after graduation.
Lowering admission standards will cause the reputation of the school to decrease drastically. Because the UA already has a nationwide reputation as a “party school,” lowering admission requirements would only hurt the school’s national reputation even more.
The university is faced with lowering the standards of the school and potentially hurting its national reputation to increase students or, instead, increasing tuition and potentially losing students who can’t afford the increased tuition.
The budget is also potentially harmful to K-12 schools Arizona. K-12 public and charter schools have been struggling with funding for years, and this new budget proposal won’t help them.
Here in Tucson, some elementary schools have over-the-top and unnecessary technology, such as SMART Boards in kindergarten classrooms, but lack useful school supplies. This includes whiteboards with dotted lines on them that help kids learn how to write letters.
A large number of the students enrolled in Arizona's universities will come from these same schools; will they be prepared if their primary education funding continues to languish?
If the funding for those schools and our universities decreases, not only will Arizona’s education reputation get worse nationally, but the children growing up here and the students coming from across the country to attend college here will be wasting their money and their time and not getting the education they are paying for or that they deserve.
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