Rep. Nass asks Board of Regents to wait on tuition surcharge - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Rep. Nass asks Board of Regents to wait on tuition surcharge

MADISON (WKOW) -- In a statement on Wednesday, Representative Steve Nass requested that the Board of Regents delay the approval of a $1,000 tuition surcharge on UW-Madison resident students.

According to Nass' statement, Nass believes UW-Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin has worked to educate faculty, students and administrators on the goals of the Madison Initiative for Undergraduates. However, Nass feels that that plan is being moved forward without reasonable time for analysis of its specific details.

The tuition surcharge plan was announced on March 25, 2009. According to Nass, the proposal has been fast tracked to the May agenda of the Board of Regents. He says that by comparison, the previous tuition surcharge plan enacted at UW-La Crosse was a process that lasted more than three years and ended with a successful compromise.

Nass says he supported that compromise because it eliminated non-essential spending and agreed to specific benchmarks for faculty hiring, increased undergraduate enrollment and a prohibition on using the new revenues for administrative expenditures. Nass says the Madison Initiative is based on "possible scenarios" on how the funds from the surcharge will be spent.

"I believe that the students and citizens of this state deserve more detail and accountability on how the $41 million annually in higher tuition costs will be spent than simply approving 'possible scenarios,'" said Nass. "Additionally, it is very concerning that Chancellor Martin has chosen to completely ignore the results of a student survey involving the votes of 2,286 students."

The survey Nass references found that 38 percent of students opposed the tuition surcharge. 17 percent of respondents supported the plan. The remaining 45 percent of students didn't take a position, citing lack of information.

According to Nass' statement, on possible expenditure scenario would use $14.5 million annually to hire 92 faculty in 18 departments with high demand undergraduate courses. He says he could support that effort if the new faculty positions also came with the stipulation for a minimum undergraduate workload for the new positions.

According to Nass, the Madison plan would also utilize the surcharge funding for non-instructional expenditures.

Nass opposes the use of surcharge funding in the Madison plan for the following non-academic purposes:
        -Freshman Interest Groups ($1 million annually)
        -Residential Learning Communities ($600,000 annually)
        -Transfer Student Office ($250,000 annually)
        -Create E-Portfolio Program ($500,000 annually)
        -Comprehensive Social Justice Center ($350,000 annually)
        -Sexual Assault Prevention Programs ($100,000 annually)
        -Campus Safety Initiatives ($200,000 annually)
        -Alcohol Abuse Prevention Efforts ($100,000 annually)

Nass believes that these expenditures could be funded from existing revenue sources.

Nass provided the following recommendations to the Board of Regents in his request to delay approval of the UW-Madison tuition surcharge plan:

  • Eliminate all non-academic spending.
  • Reduce the resident surcharge to no more than $500 annually.
  • Require Madison to re-engage the campus community in the fall of 2009 to thoroughly vet the revised proposal.
  • Require Madison to conduct a vote of students in March 2010 to obtain approval.
  • If approved by students, present the plan to the Board of Regents for initial implementation in the fall of 2010.
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