Senate votes to phase out undergraduate tuition surcharges

By Craig Chamberlain

Tuition surcharges such as those approved a couple years ago for
undergraduate programs in three colleges eventually should be
phased out, according to a report approved Monday by the Urbana-
Champaign Senate.

New surcharges should not be implemented, the report said, except
in very limited circumstances and as a measure of almost-last

In 1992 and 1993, the UI Board of Trustees approved tuition
surcharge proposals from the colleges of Engineering, Fine and
Applied Arts, and Liberal Arts and Sciences. The surcharges,
applied to students in specific programs or in the college as a
whole, were justified on the basis of exceptional need and
evidence that the quality of the programs in question was
seriously threatened.

In the spring of 1994, the Senate Council formed a committee to
develop recommendations for the use and future of tuition
surcharges. Its report, issued in May, was reviewed by various
senate committees, revised, and then approved by the Senate
Council for a vote by the full senate Monday.

Except for comments from Roland Liebert, who chaired a
coordinating group that presented the final proposal, there was
no discussion in Monday's meeting. The measure passed by a
unanimous voice vote.

While never questioning the need for additional money that
justified the tuition surcharges, the report notes that "there
are a number of troubling philosophical and operational issues
that accompany currently authorized surcharges. The university
has, with good reason, traditionally held to the principle of
supporting instructional facilities and operations mainly out of
the general university budget."

The report acknowledges "the reality of urgent but unmet
instructional needs" that "may compel movement away from the
concept of shared educational resources." Even when that is the
case, however, the report suggests the use instead of other
special funding mechanisms on a limited basis. One suggested
possibility: course-specific lab fees, if and when it becomes
possible to assess them.

The report also includes policy on the use of currently
authorized surcharge funds, most of it related to making sure
those funds are used for the intended purpose. "Currently
authorized surcharge funds should be used almost exclusively for
the benefit of students paying the surcharge."

UIUC -- Inside Illinois -- 1995/02-02-95