Survey to determine fee increase

By By Rochelle McConkie

By Rochelle McConkie

Depending on student opinion, student fees could be increased by as much as $10 next year.

The Associated Students of the University of Utah will be sending out a survey next Monday asking students whether they would support an increase in student fees to subsidize international study abroad programs and increase funding for the College of Fine Arts.

The first expansion in student fees would be a $3 charge to provide scholarship money to students participating in study abroad programs. The U administration has agreed to pay $1 for each student each semester, possibly $2, bringing the total to at least $4 per student per semester toward the program.

The average 12-credit-hour student currently pays $313.14 in student fees per semester.

The survey will be e-mailed to all students on Monday, asking if they support the changes. The survey will contain two questions, one about fine arts and the other about study abroad programs, and it is possible that one will pass and one will not.

Half of the money received from the study abroad fee would be immediately used to subsidize costs through financial aid and merit-based scholarships to students studying internationally.

With the study abroad fee, $137,000 of scholarships will be given out yearly by the International Center.

The remaining 50 percent of the fees would be put into an endowment fund that will increase over the years. In 20 years, there would be close to $4 million in the endowment, providing nearly $150,000 in interest for study abroad scholarships per year.

University of Utah President Michael K. Young will use the study abroad initiative as part of his “capital campaign,” calling the 2007-2008 school year the “year of internationalization.”

Students would be able to use the scholarship money for any educational international program.

“We mean ‘study abroad’ in the most inclusive sense, covering any academic, credit-bearing program,” said Brad Curtis, a member of the study abroad scholarship committee with the department of academic affairs.

Student Body Vice President Toby Collett said that with the endowment, the fee could be removed in the future, calling the fee a “self-sustaining initiative.”

The second increase in student fees would raise the current fine arts fee from $1 to $8 to pay for student and faculty productions in the College of Fine Arts.

Raymond Tymas-Jones, dean of the College of Fine Arts, approached ASUU asking to increase the funding.

“At the present time, the College of Fine Arts receives $1 per student per semester-up from the 96 cents it had been receiving before,” Tymas-Jones said. “We surveyed about 50 other universities to see what kind of funding they were receiving, and the majority of their fees were at $10 to $12 per student, per semester.”

Tymas-Jones proposed that fine arts student fees be raised to $8 to cover escalating production costs for art and art history, ballet, film, modern dance, music and theater productions.

Sam Mills, a freshman in parks, recreation and tourism, said the fee would make it easier to attend fine arts events. “Last year, I took an acting class and we were required to go to three performances-it gets pretty expensive sometimes,” Mills said.

With this increase in funding, Tymas-Jones hopes to eliminate student tickets to all student and faculty productions, allowing any student to attend any event with a UCard.

“We think the student ticket prices might be prohibitive for students to go to as many events,” Tymas-Jones said. “We want to create greater access for students to be able to attend all events in dance, music, film and visual arts.”

With rising tuition costs, some students said they would be hesitant to support the increase in fees.

“The U is really turning into a commuter school-half the students are only on campus for part of the day,” senior English major Maggie Fullmer said. “It should be up to the departments to pay for these fees. I would rather pay for my own study abroad program?than have everyone else pay for it.”

Survey results will be presented to the ASUU General Assembly and Senate at the end of the month to make a decision on whether to pass the fee increase, which will eventually be decided by the Board of Regents.

“This is something we want the students to decide,” Collett said. “If they support it, we support it.”

Trevor Dopp