The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday September 27th

Payne Seeks More Student Input on Tuition

The BOG approved tuition increases at six system schools Wednesday -- a move that also incited the board to reconsider the process it adopted in 1998 to set tuition levels at the 16 campuses.

Payne said the level of student involvement in tuition decisions, which are made each spring at the BOG level and each fall at the campus level, is not up to par. "There needs to be a systematic approach to awareness," he said, adding that he would like to have a uniform system to ensure that student input on tuition is solicited on each campus.

But some of the system's student leaders think students already have a voice in the tuition process.

Timothy Peterkin, student body president at N.C. Central University, one of the campuses for which the BOG approved a tuition increase this week, said the school strives to include students in tuition discussions. Peterkin said N.C. Central students met with administrators to discuss tuition increases on campus, adding that administrators also held a campuswide forum to explain the increase.

"I think students, through their representatives, have an adequate say in tuition increases," he said.

Brad Wilson, chairman of the BOG's budget and finance committee, said it is important for students to be involved in the tuition-setting process.

But Wilson said he would not support Payne's suggestion for a uniform system because he thinks each campus should develop its own system to include students. "I would hesitate to say we need to take a cookie-cutter approach," he said.

The BOG's current tuition-setting policy allows individual schools to request tuition increases under "extraordinary circumstances."

Since the policy was instated two years ago, 11 schools, including UNC-Chapel Hill, have succeeded in receiving tuition increases, mostly to boost faculty salaries. At Wednesday's meeting, board members agreed to meet in April to investigate and discuss possible policy changes.

In addition to failing to require adequate student input Payne said the tuition policy is not explicit enough.

"Until the board lays out what 'extraordinary' means we can't go forward with more increases," he said.

But BOG member Addison Bell said explicit wording would wreck the policy, which he said should allow for different decisions to be made from year to year. "It may be clarified to some extent," Bell said. "But the question is how do we do it without locking ourselves in a box."

But Payne said he is optimistic that changes will be made. "I think it's good there are so many people on the board who see the change we've made as opening a Pandora's Box."

The State & National Editor can be reached at stntdesk@unc.edu.

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