Universities approve tuition hikes, reject gun option

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 131 views 

The University of Arkansas System Board of Trustees on Thursday (May 23) approved tuition and fee increases of 3.5% for the University of Arkansas and the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith.

A student taking 15 hour course per semester at the University of Arkansas will see their bill go up by $264 a year, and a student at the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith will face a $191 increase.

Board members also voted unanimously to opt out of a new law that allows faculty and staff of Arkansas universities to carry a concealed weapon on campus. Act 226, approved during the recently concluded regular session of the 89th General Assembly, allowed for the concealed carry option. Several universities and colleges not affiliated with the UA System have also decided to not allow firearms on campus. Those institutions included Arkansas Tech University (and its Ozark campus), NorthWest Arkansas Community College, John Brown University, and Arkansas State University.

Raising tuition fees was not unanimous. The UA System Board voted 5-4 to accept the fiscal affairs committee report on tuition and fee changes at 10 system institutions. Following are the increases approved for five universities in the system, with amounts reflecting full-time tuition and fees for one year (30 hours).
• University of Arkansas
2013 Existing: $7,554
2014 New: $7,818

• University of Arkansas at Fort Smith
2013 Existing: $5,436
2014 New: $5,627

• University of Arkansas at Little Rock
2013 Existing: $7,344
2014 New: $7,601

• University of Arkansas at Monticello
2013 Existing: $5,560
2014 New: $5,794

• University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff
2013 Existing: $5,518
2014 New: $5,755

In a commentary provided to the Times Record, UAFS Chancellor Dr. Paul Beran, said the cost of staffing a growing university is one reason for tuition and fee increases.

“Since Westark Community College became the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith on January 1, 2002, the faculty have had to have higher level academic degrees and credentials and thus they are costlier to hire. Since 2006, 45 new full-time faculty positions have been created and filled. These positions accommodate the 82.9 percent increase in full-time equivalent students that occurred between fall 2001, the last year of Westark College, and fall 2012 at UAFS,” Beran explained.

Also on Thursday, the Arkansas Tech University Board of Trustees approved a fee and tuition increase that will see charges in 2014 (30 hours per year) reach $6,918, up from $6,528 in the most recent year. ATU officials were quick to note in a statement that tuition levels remain below those of the UA, UALR, University of Central Arkansas and Arkansas State University.

“We are grateful for the additional financial support that Arkansas Tech received in the most recent state legislative session, but the fact of the matter is that Arkansas Tech still has substantially fewer resources than the other four-year universities in Arkansas,” ATU President Dr. Robert Brown said in the statement.

Tuition at the ATU-Ozark campus will increase from $84 per credit hour to $94.