UNC System funding could change

Along with budget cuts and tuition rises across the state, the UNC system wants to rethink the way it is currently funding campuses and programs in North Carolina. The new model could reward high-performing campuses with more funds while taking away funders from lower-performing universities.

If this new model is put into place, this would also end a long tradition of giving universities a set amount of guaranteed money for each student they enroll. According to The News & Observer in Raleigh, “this change would tie enrollment growth funding directly to a series of academic markers such as retention rates, graduation rates and how long it takes students to graduate.”

With campuses across the state relying on enrollment growth funding each year, this issue is one of the UNC system’s top priorities when it lobbies for state dollars. The amount given varies from different campuses and programs, but overall, the UNC system receives about $12,000 in state money for each full-time student it enrolls.

With North Carolina facing an upcoming budget deficit of at least $3.2 billion, university and program spending will be under extreme surveillance and be heavily reviewed under the General Assembly early next year across the state. The UNC system is expected to have this new model in place in January before the next legislative session. When this new model arrives, it will provide a new level of accountability for all universities and programs.

Current WCU Chancellor John Bardo shared that he has “been appointed to a committee to review possible models” and “WCU has prepared for budget cuts and will continue to do so.” As stated in a previous article, ‘Tuition to Increase, Budget Cuts Possible,’ WCU should prepare for a five percent budget cut and all WCU students should prepare for, at least, a $500 increase in tuition. Western Carolina can handle a five percent budget cut without asking academic departments to make further cuts.

As far as decreasing the freshmen class size next year, Chancellor Bardo said, “We made the decision in August to limit the size of the entering class. This decision was made to allow us to continue to increase quality and to deal realistically with our budget.  Unless the funding model is totally different than I would anticipate, this decision should not be expected to change.”

With a decreasing freshman class size, budget cuts and an increased tuition, WCU will be changing a lot next year. The budget cuts will be statewide so every campus will also be affected.

“These are very difficult economic times for every area of the state,” Chancellor Bardo said.  “WCU will maintain its focus on its core mission and on assuring that students obtain the best possible education.”