Members of the university’s Faculty Senate fear that professors at UW-Madison will soon leave the university in search of better paying jobs at competing schools. This fear came shortly after a report was released showing that faculty at UW-Madison are paid significantly less than their peers at other universities. In fact, salaries here are about 11 percent lower overall than at competing institutions.
According to the report, there are several proposed solutions to this distressing problem.
One solution is increasing the number of out-of-state students admitted to the university. Out-of-state students pay $25,421 per year in tuition while in-state students pay $9,671. Clearly, increasing the number of out-of-state students would be more than sufficient to cover an increase in salaries. However, this board recognizes some fatal flaws with that plan.
We do not want the university to drastically increase the amount of out-of-state students accepted into the university just because of monetary concerns. This tactic will unravel the Wisconsin Idea, which is that the university is ultimately here to first and foremost benefit the citizens of Wisconsin. Non-resident students comprise 25 percent of the student body, which is more than enough to sustain a good mix of in-state and out-of-state students while maintaining the Wisconsin Idea.
Furthermore, the last thing this board wants to see is the high value of our university diminished by unqualified applicants just because of money. Sara Goldrick-Rab, who is chair of the university’s committee on undergraduate recruitment, admission and financial aid, told faculty senators that the pool of out-of-state applicants is actually quite weak. In other words, the university would be accepting out-of-state students who are less qualified than in-state ones just because they would bring in more money.
This by no means insinuates that out-of-state students are worse than in-state students. We welcome out-of-state students into this university with open arms, not because they can afford to come here, but because they are qualified. Every student at this school deserves to be here. However, the standards of admission should remain stringent no matter what budget shortfalls the university may endure. This board strongly believes in maintaining the prestige and value of our education and we don’t want the budget cuts to be the reason why our value has been diminished.
With that being said, the inevitable solution to this problem will be raising tuition. Those two words speak volumes to every student across this campus, especially ones that rely heavily on financial aid, multiple jobs and student loans. While none of us like the idea of raising tuition, this may be a burden we all must bear. In order to maintain the integrity and value this institution provides to us, we will have to dig deeper into our pockets. This board believes the idea of losing top tier educators is too disheartening and will do anything to keep them, even if that means paying a little more in the coming years.
Raising tuition is inevitable and it will happen within the next school year. However, we ask that the students of UW-Madison not blame the university for this inevitable increase in tuition. While the university is making the concrete decision to raise tuition, it isn’t its fault. Rather than be upset with UW-Madison, students need to be angry with the Wisconsin state government for drastically cutting funding to higher education. If the state keeps slashing funds to education, the once prestigious value of a UW-Madison education will increasingly diminish as professors, and other highly valued staff, leave in search of other opportunities. And where does the burden of all of this fall? On the shoulders of students who have done nothing but try to better their own lives with a top tier education.
We can all take some solace in the fact that the university will be here to help students who need it the most. In a meeting with the Dean of Students, Lori Berquam, she said that increases in tuition absolutely cannot happen without aid increasing. If the sticker price of our education goes up, it is imperative that access to financial aid increases as well. We hope that government officials realize this and are prepared to make the appropriate steps to accommodate those students who most desperately need it.
Again, we ask students of UW-Madison not to get angry with the university when tuition costs rise, but instead seek help. Prepare yourselves now for this rising expense and contact university officials, they are here to help. If you want someone to blame, look no further than the government officials whose rigid stance on slashing the budget has done nothing but increase the burden placed on students of UW-Madison.
We want to know what you think about rising tuition costs. Send us your opinion in a Letter to the Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.