The Western Kentucky University Finance and Budget Committee has agreed to send the full Board of Regents a proposed spending plan that increases student tuition and fees, as well as employee salaries.
The proposed budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1 would increase undergraduate tuition by four-percent, and add $50 to the online course fee assessed to full-time students.
Faculty Regent Claus Ernst raised concerns about the way the university is proposing to generate revenue through the increased student fee.
“I’m against having a fee that has not a specific purpose, but is used to fill a general budget hole,” Ernst said. “In my opinion, to teach online shouldn’t be that much more expensive that teaching a face-to-face meeting.”
The proposed tuition hike would generate nearly $5.6 million that would be used for merit-based raises for WKU employees.
Staff Regent Tamela Smith said she appreciates the effort to increase employee compensation, but is still concerned about worker morale following several recent rounds of budget cuts.
“It does make it more difficult to recruit and to bring in new people. And unfortunately, many of the people I see leaving now are younger employees. They don’t have as much time invested already, and it’s easier for them to transfer somewhere else and go into private sector.”
WKU recently instituted a series of moves creating $27 million that will be used to balance its next budget.
Those moves include the elimination of filled and vacant positions, and other targeted cuts.
The full Board of Regents is scheduled to vote on the proposed budget during a special meeting on June 22.