In this column space yesterday, you read a column from Mark Laichena, who reminded you that even though the Board of Trustees voted to raise UNC’s in-state tuition by 40 percent during the next five years, the tuition debate isn’t over.
Today, the UNC-system Board of Governors will continue the discussion of tuition and fees. The conversation will extend to all 17 schools in North Carolina’s university system and the decisions at stake are larger than any single student’s tuition bill.
Four years of budget cuts have challenged the balance between quality and affordability that has long been the University’s favorite bragging right. Wary of admitting publicly that the quality of our education is decreasing, those with the power to shape policy pretend we aren’t caught in a dangerous dependence on short-term fixes to a much longer-term problem.
Each year, the budget of each campus in the UNC system depends on the priorities of the state legislature, whose allegiances and ideals shift with each election. Reacting to the legislature’s budget cuts by increasing tuition again and again will never break this cycle, particularly in years of economic fragility.
Without a long-term commitment to affordability and accessibility for all academically qualified students, UNC will remain caught in this cycle.