University of Alaska Board of Regents approves operating budget

Published: Nov. 9, 2017 at 5:28 PM AKST
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The University of Alaska Board of Regents met Thursday and approved an operating budget proposal of $341 million for the coming year.

UA president Jim Johnsen said the plan is down from $378 million four years ago and up from $317 million in the current fiscal year.

The plan will go to Gov. Bill Walker and the Legislature for consideration.

The board also approved a tuition increase of 5 percent.

"In addition to that as part of the budget they approved, a 25 percent discount in tuition for certain occupational endorsement and certificate programs, particularly in areas that are really tied in to work force development, short term workforce development certificates," Johnsen said.

Johnsen said it's not a decision made lightly.

"The regents always hesitate to increase tuition, but in light of the large budget cuts the university has taken over the last four years in order for us to ensure the high quality education that we provide our students, we need that additional revenue," Johnsen said.

But, Johnsen says in comparison with other states, UA's tuition is relatively low.

Over the past four years, Johnsen said the UA system has cut more than 1,000 faculty and staff due to budget cuts totaling $145 million cumulatively.

Johnsen said UA has also seen some impacts to student enrollment numbers.

"Student enrollment has declined, we're very concerned about that because that impacts our ability to serve the state and when we have fewer students we have fewer graduates, and then we have fewer people who are going out into the workforce to meet the demands out there," Johnsen said.

Johnsen said the university is making efforts to inform students of financial aid and scholarship opportunities earlier.