University budget cuts undermine quality education

On August 27, 2013

In-state undergraduate tuition per credit hour on the Tampa campus?

$211.19.

Out-of-state tuition per credit hour on the Tampa campus?

$575.01.

Amount of funding the state of Florida gave to USF in the 2012-2013 academic year?

Millions.

A quality education?

Priceless.

However, as the university implements spending reductions and warns of
eliminating courses to students, cutting budgets and potentially
laying off staff, it seems as though the university is putting a price on education — and the price keeps dwindling.

The recent reduction of library hours is perhaps the best representation o
f what is wrong with the way in which “strategic reinvestments” are being made.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and a budget can’t be fixed in a year — or three, and the university’s core functions — such as providing study spaces for students — should not be the casualty of tough economic times.

While the university does have its hands tied to some degree in its ability to use funds that are restricted to specific usages,
perhaps it should take a closer look at the way in which money has been spent in recent years.

The salaries of its 50 highest paid employees, all but 15 of whom are administrators, athletic coaches and other non-faculty members, could each receive a 50 percent pay cut and still earn more than $100,000 year, according to a database of salaries posted by the Tampa Bay Business Journal.

Campus beautification projects have abounded left, right and center, and while those funds couldn’t directly be used toward other areas, perhaps unused funds could have been carried forward.

While drastic cuts to top-earning individuals’ salaries are not the solution to years of a changing fiscal climate in higher education, neither is reducing operation hours at the Library, which is now open fewer hours per week than the gym, requiring students to pay a fee for using their credit cards to pay tuition, possibly eliminating
[[ more than a handful of courses, laying off staff members or implementing hiring freezes.

None of the above mentioned salaries or budget cuts seem to, as the 2013-18 Strategic Plan mission states, “generate
knowledge, foster intellectual development and ensure student successin a global environment.”

While the university, like others, will need to find new ways to keep itself financially stable and secure, its short-term cost savings should not
compromise its long-term success or the education of students.

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