The UT System will now be working with its eight academic institutions, including UT-Austin, to develop potential tuition and fee increases and ensure any increases are absolutely necessary for the institution.
The institutions and the system will be collaborating on five-year strategic plans with a full budget analysis for the first time in preparation for when the system approves potential tuition increases in February, according to a Aug. 23 memo. Steve Leslie, executive vice chancellor for academic affairs of the system, said the regular five-year strategic plans will include the total budget for each institution and the ways resources are being used.
“This will help ensure that any future tuition and fee increases are limited to what is necessary to achieve critical institutional goals,” UT System chancellor James Milliken said in a statement.
Leslie said the UT System Board of Regents wants the analysis so that it can understand the financial circumstances and ways it can manage each institution’s cost effectiveness. He said UT’s libraries, museums and graduate school are all included in the analysis.
“(We hope to) look at all options for how money is used with the sensitivity to students and families in mind so that at the end … any decision is based upon a solid understanding of … financial circumstances,” Leslie said.
Leslie said the system is also requesting that all its academic institutions submit comprehensive budget proposals on top of their requests for tuition and fee increases by Nov. 1.
“It’s a big, time-consuming, deep and thorough process that these campuses will be doing,” Leslie said.
Joey Williams, director of communications for UT-Austin’s Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, said UT is pulling all of the requested information together before the deadline. Then, he said they will consider what the needs of the campus are.
“(The new process) is going to increase transparency around the tuition-setting process, and the role that plays in the University budget,” Williams said.
Leslie said the institutions will focus on strategic priorities for advancing themselves, including their academic quality. He said institutions will also consider student success, including four-year and six-year graduation rates.
“Our goals will continue to be promoting affordable access, improving student success and recruiting and retaining talented faculty,” Milliken said.
After proposals are submitted on Nov. 1, the Office of Academic Affairs and the Office of Budget Planning of the UT System will work with each institution to review and provide feedback for the tuition proposals. Afterward, Leslie said the board will approve the usual tuition increase in the February board meeting.
“We have just an outstanding board with many new board members and high sensitivity to cost and use of money on campuses,” Leslie said. “It’s a really good change. It will manage the way all aspects of the campuses’ finances (are being) analyzed … and look at how the campuses are spending money and the cost efficiencies.”