The School of Nursing’s decision to slash 25 percent of next year’s undergraduate nursing enrollment is a painful lesson for UNC on distributing campus-wide budget cuts.
When UNC distributes cuts, it should avoid distributing them to departments or schools with high demand for graduates and no other place to cut but enrollment.
As the state faces a nursing shortage, UNC should take seriously its responsibility to churn out well-prepared graduates that can contribute.
According to Kristen Swanson, dean of the School of Nursing, the school has already made taken drastic measures due to nearly 10 percent budget cuts in the last two years.
Swanson stands by the fact that the reduction in enrollment was only motivated by the budget cuts. The School of Nursing has done everything it can to avoid cutting enrollment and faculty. Swanson said that the school has taken measures such as delaying to replace outdated computers and decreasing supplies. The school’s savings have already been depleted, so there are no other ways to trim the budget .
In January, Chancellor Holden Thorp authorized 5 percent campus-wide cuts which led to the School of Nursing’s decision. There was no choice but to cut enrollment, much to the dismay of aspiring UNC nursing majors.
But this reduction affects far more than just students. There will be a sizeable deficit in nurses once the current ones retire, leaving graduates from programs like UNC’s School of Nursing to fill in the gap.
The fact that campus-wide cuts have hit the nursing program so severely speaks volumes for how different campus programs absorb the cuts. Not every campus entity is equally affected by across-the-board cuts.
There should be more concern at UNC for which programs take the biggest hits from budget cuts. From now on, UNC should make sure programs like the School of Nursing, which so directly carry out the University’s mission, are protected from these as much as possible.
Both North Carolina’s hospitals and the School of Nursing have lost because of the recent budget cuts, but this doesn’t have to be the case in the future.
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