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Friday March 24th

UNC-system Thomas Ross president criticizes out-of-state tuition hike

Tom Ross, President of the University of North Carolina
Buy Photos Tom Ross, President of the University of North Carolina

UNC-system President Thomas Ross spoke candidly Monday about his concern for the state’s future if out-of-state students are deterred from attending system universities.

Ross spoke to about a dozen journalists at a roundtable event sponsored by the UNC-CH Program on Public Life.

He touched on a variety of topics, such as UNC-CH’s Chancellor-elect Carol Folt and the impact of budget cuts on the university system.

Ross said Folt will lead a University that still holds a prestigious reputation, despite a series of athletic and academic scandals.

Another major talking point was the proposed additional tuition increase for out-of-state students.

Last month, Gov. Pat McCrory released his budget proposal, which includes a 12.3 percent tuition hike for out-of-state students at the six most in-demand system campuses, including UNC-CH.

“We are asking (out-of-state students) to subsidize our in-state students, and I think we are running the risk of turning them away,” Ross said.

Ross said there would be significant consequences to the state if out-of-state students were deterred from attending system schools.

“We’re more than just producing degrees, there’s so many ways we touch the state every day,” he said.

Many out-of-state students stay in the state after attending school here, but some will transfer or decide not to attend if tuition is too high, he said.

Ross said out-of-state students are one of the reasons why businesses are attracted to North Carolina.

“We have done well to attract talent, and we have brought businesses here,” Ross said. “In our analysis of what we think the talent pool needs to look like, the only way we can get to that level is to import a certain level of talent.”

Journalism professor Ferrel Guillory, director of the Program on Public Life and organizer of the roundtable, said Ross made a strong case for why tuition for out-of-state students should not be increased.

“He was trying to tell the legislature that they have to be careful and avoid going too far in losing out-of-state students,” Guillory said. “They are important to the economic and social fabric of North Carolina.”

Sarah Anderson, a junior economics and psychology major, said significant tuition increases for out-of-state students are unfair.

“I already think that it is unfair in the difference we pay now,” she said. “It’s almost discriminating against out-of-state students to come here.”

Anderson, from Pearl River, N.Y., said she would not have been able to attend UNC-CH without financial aid.

Anderson said further tuition hikes would make it harder for future out-of-state students to attend UNC-CH.

“Out-of-state students bring diversity and variety to the school,” she said. “UNC would be moving toward only students from North Carolina, which could make the school less competitive.”

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