ND Higher Ed Chancellor Calls For An End To Tuition Waivers
North Dakota’s new Chancellor of Higher Education hasn’t exactly gotten off on the right foot here in North Dakota. He came into an already acrimonious relationship between legislators and higher education officials and promptly poured fuel on the fire by accepting a huge salary increase and demanding a doubling of his office’s staff along with yet another big increase in higher education funding.
Meanwhile, the correlation between higher education funding and enrollment in the state’s universities looks like this:
That’s a big increase in funding for a relatively small increase in enrollment. To put it simply, things have gotten out of hand in the state’s university system. So it’s interesting to see some of the major policy reforms Shirvani announced today. Here’s a summary, courtesy of the Grand Forks Herald:
- Creating a North Dakota High School to College Success Report, which would basically be a way to let parents, educators and policymakers know how North Dakota K-12 students are performing at the collegiate level. This report would be readily available to anyone seeking the information. The objective is to increase the quality and readiness of students entering the North Dakota University System.
- Increasing affordability by expanding the present financial aid program to include more need-based aid as well as support for the adult learner population.
- A requirement that all remedial education courses be handled by the community colleges. No longer would UND or NDSU faculty be teaching remedial courses to incoming students. Currently, 23 percent of all university system students require remedial education. At UND the percentage is 5.4 percent, and 13.6 percent at NDSU. Dickinson State’s numbers are 28 percent, according to statistics provided by Shirvani.
- Additionally, all dual-credit courses, in other words courses taken by high school students for college credits, would be the responsibility of the community colleges.
- Tuition waivers would no longer be offered under Shirvani’s plan, except in a handful of cases. Shirvani is hoping to standardize tuition-waiver practices across the board.
Those are some interesting proposals that, frankly, are appealing to critics of higher education such as myself. One of the problems with the higher education industry, both in North Dakota and nationally, is that the focus has been on moving as many students through the system as possible harvesting all the subsidized student loans, grants and appropriations tied to them. This trend, this higher education bubble, is what has allowed higher education faculty and administrators to strike it rich while students graduate with increasingly heavy debt burdens and degrees that are worth less with each passing year.
What Shirvani is proposing, taken at face value, would put an emphasis on quality over quantity. But by far the most eyebrow-raising proposal here is ending tuition waivers.
The ND university system’s two largest institutions – NDSU and UND – gave away nearly $30 million in tuition waivers last year for “diversity” among other justifications. They do that even as they complain about being underfunded. Shirvani seems to be aiming to stop that practice.
Of course, I believe it when I see it. I’d be very wary of these proposals, and whether or not the intent is to bring the to fruition or merely to appease the legislature as we head into a new legislative session next year and a new round of debates over appropriations.Tags: hamid shirvani, higher educaiton, North Dakota News, tuition waivers