Contact: Di Saunders: 503-725-5714; Cell: 503-807-5539

Board of Higher Ed Reviews Tuition and Enrollment Projections for 2003-04, Approves System Funding Priorities Based on Budget Reductions

PORTLAND, March 21 – The State Board of Higher Education (the “Board”) today held a Special Meeting to discuss, and in some cases, take action on Oregon University System (OUS) funding priorities, tuition rates, and enrollment planning for the 2003-05 biennium.

Budget Reductions

Board members reviewed a list of 55 System priorities connected to the Governor’s 2003-05 Recommended Budget (GRB) of $662 million. The Ways and Means Committee of the Oregon Legislature requested that each state agency present a list of reductions in priority order, arrayed in increments from 2% to 10% less than the GRB. Members discussed the various reduction scenarios, which identified the losses in student enrollments and tuition income at each 2% level. The Board approved the reduction scenarios, and also top priorities to be protected from deep cuts: protection of student instruction and instructional support; funding for OUS’s smaller universities, and the new OSU Cascades campus in Bend; engineering programs; research support; and campus public service programs.

“The consequences of reduced state funding are quite dramatic at each increment,” noted James Lussier, OUS Board president, “especially given the loss of $88 million of state support in the 2001-2003 biennium.” At the lowest, 2% reduction level ($13 million below GRB), OUS projects losses over the 2003-05 biennium of 2,500 students and almost $9 million in tuition losses. At the highest, 10% reduction level ($66 million below GRB), OUS projects 2003-05 biennium losses of 12,000 students and tuition losses of $43.2 million. Current 2002-03 OUS enrollment stands at approximately 78,000 students.

OUS Chancellor, Richard Jarvis, said that the continuation of tuition increases implemented at the end of this academic year, and the additional increases recommended for 2003-04 will help, but will not meet the likely losses predicted in the 2003-05 budget.

System Quality Index

Also discussed was recalibrating the 2003-05 base of OUS’s Quality Funding Index from the current level of 20% below its peer institutions average funding, to 28% below. Originally, Oregon’s public universities were working towards a quality level of just 10% below the average of OUS peers over the next three biennia. Jarvis noted that this goal was still achievable, but would now likely take the state four biennia to accomplish.

The Board directed the Chancellor to recalibrate the base Quality Funding Index from the present level of 80% of the average of OUS peers to 72% of average, given likely levels of funding for 2003-05. Additionally, the Board directed Chancellor Jarvis to seek a commitment of intent, by the Governor and the Legislature, to restore the base to at least the 90% level over the course of the next four biennia.

Tuition Increases

Already in 2003, the combination of Measure 28 failing and reduced revenue estimates from the state precipitated $35 million in cuts to OUS. Coupled with earlier cuts in the biennium, OUS lost 10.6% of its original budget, or $88 million. These reductions forced the implementation of tuition surcharges at all seven state universities.

“When Measure 28 was voted down in January, that was the System’s last hope to recoup at least some of the losses experienced this biennium,” explained Jarvis. “While it wasn’t an option we wanted to take, assessing tuition surcharges was the critical component in ensuring that student access could be continued at high levels.”

During the meeting, the Board voted to ratify that the surcharges assessed in the 2002-03 academic year be converted to permanent tuition rates. The Board directed staff to prepare the necessary Oregon Administrative Rule changes to reflect this tuition rate.

“The delicate nature of the state economy necessitates a strong higher education System,” said Lussier. “Maintaining the System at the current level means continuing these temporary increases in the next biennium, and trying to keep further 2003-05 biennium increases as modest as possible.” Members stressed the need to maintain affordability, especially for the state’s low-income populations. A total of $6.1 million of new tuition income will be set aside by OUS institutions to support financially needy students.

Tuition and Enrollment Management After discussion of the impact of declining state revenues on institutional quality and student support, the Board directed the Chancellor to prepare a formal tuition and enrollment plan to be considered for their approval at the April meeting. The plans will include the tuition level required by each campus as reflected in the recommendations of the Presidents.

The Board, anticipating that the 2% to 10% reductions may be enforced, also directed the Chancellor to prepare, with input from each institution, enrollment management plans that articulate how each campus and the System will be able to assure that quality is being maintained and that Board standards are being met.

“If there are reductions in state support, there will necessarily be revisions downward of the enrollment possibilities,” said Jarvis. “If the Governor’s budget is funded, we expect to be able to meet demand by being able to support 6,700 more students over the biennium. But the loss of General Fund support will certainly hinder the opportunity of the universities to continue to meet the growing demand of Oregonians for higher education,” added Jarvis.

Oregon University System (OUS) comprises seven distinguished public universities, reaching more than one million people each year through on-campus classes, statewide public services and lifelong learning. The Oregon State Board of Higher Education, the statutory governing board of OUS, is composed of eleven members appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Oregon State Senate. For additional information, go to
www.ous.edu

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