The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents unanimously voted to end a policy requiring universities to consult with students before setting university and program-specific tuition adjustments during a Thursday meeting at UW-Madison.
Tuition for UW System schools is set by state law, but each university is allowed to add additional tuition, known as differentials, on top of the baseline set by state law for certain in-demand programs, like nursing or engineering.
Wisconsin has required students — either directly or through student governance — to be “advised and consulted” for changes to tuition differentials since 1999. Both institution-wide and program-specific tuition differentials were allowed under the 1999 policy.
But after Thursday’s meeting, universities are no longer required to solicit feedback on tuition differentials.
The vote rescinded the old policy and instead designated institution-wide differentials as baseline tuition starting in the 2023-24 academic year.
“The proposal continues to allow program-specific tuition rates for high-cost and high-demand programs, though student involvement would not be required,” the policy reads.
Requested differentials this year ranged in cost.
Some are smaller, like a $288 per-year differential for an undergraduate pre-licensure nursing program at UW-Green Bay. Others are more costly, like a $2,000 annual differential proposed by UW-Madison for its undergraduate business and engineering programs — up from a $1,000 differential instituted since 2007.
Associated Students of Madison Chair Kevin Jacobson told The Daily Cardinal he was “pretty disappointed” to hear the change.
“To take out protections and requirements that probably were fought for by a student at that time is just not right,” Jacobson said. “Students should be involved in setting up their tuition, especially when it comes to differential tuition.”
Although ASM passed a consultation agreement with the College of Engineering in regard to differential tuition, Jacobson said he was unsure if it will be in effect after the rule change.
“I think [the UW System] could be doing more to interact with us. I think they could be doing more to interact with students in general,” Jacobson said. “Students should be more involved in every room where a decision is being made, because they're the ones impacted by them.”
ASM doesn’t have a planned response but will try to increase dialogue with the Board of Regents, he added.
In a statement to the Cardinal, UW System Director for Media Relations Mark Pitsch said the system has “heard that tuition bills are too complicated, and these policy changes are intended to simplify the process for students and parents.”
Liam Beran is the Campus News Editor for The Daily Cardinal and a third-year English major. Throughout his time at the Cardinal, he's written articles for campus, state and in-depth news. Follow him on Twitter at @liampberan.