Commissioner says higher ed budget will do

Students will pay 10 percent more for their schooling, but higher education officials say they feel OK with the final budget decisions the Legislature handed down Wednesday night.

Richard Kendell, commissioner of higher education, said higher education was treated fairly.

“In a very tight budget year, we feel pretty good,” he said.

The U will receive some money for financial aid, enrollment growth, nursing education, engineering education, students with disabilities and salary raises.

A congressional amendment was approved to allow the U to continue trading intellectual property from research for stock in companies started to profit from that research. The decision won’t be finalized until a public vote later this year.

The Legislature said they plan on reducing dependence on “growth funding.”

The growth funding formula gives more money to schools with growing student bodies and less to schools with declining enrollment which forced schools like the U to focus on the number of students on campus instead of other issues like increasing the quality of education.

“But there are still some unanswered things,” Kendell said.

“The Legislature did not address fuel and power…that leaves huge holes in [school] budgets.”

The budget bill forces schools to absorb the debts caused by lack of funding from the state to pay for fuel and power, enrollment growth and building maintenance.

“Tuition will go up another 10 percent,” according to Kendell. “Hopefully that will go down in the future, but that’s only possible if the state gives more.”

The specified allocation of money for the nursing initiative and the changing of tuition policy gives university presidents less flexibility within their budgets, Kendell said.

“We tried to preserve as much flexibility as possible for presidents,” he said.

The budget also includes a paragraph saying the School of Medicine is still expected to defend its admissions policy. The policy came under suspicion after they were accused of admitting too many minorities several years ago.

The building most recommended for renovation by the Board of Regents, Weber State University’s Swenson Athletic building got the money it needed but the Marriott Library, number two on the Regents’ list, did not receive any money.

The formula was also poorly followed as legislators from rural areas secured funds for their local two-year colleges, regardless of enrollment numbers.

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