Poll shows students in Carlson oppose surcharge

Regents will likely approve the $2,000 charge Friday.
February 09, 2012

 

The Carlson School of Management will likely have its $2,000 surcharge approved by the University of Minnesota Board of Regents on Friday.

Carlson School hopes to gradually phase in a $2,000 per year tuition surcharge for its undergraduates to add and retain faculty and increase scholarship funds.

While some Carlson School students see the benefit of adding faculty, most were opposed to the hike.

In an informal survey of more than 70 students taken by the Minnesota Daily, 76 percent of surveyed Carlson School undergraduates knew of the potential surcharge. Of those who were aware of the hike, about 80 percent described their opinion of the change as unfavorable.

“I can understand that they would [add the surcharge],” Carlson School freshman Jason Lahr said. “But it’s never nice to pay more for the same service.”

However, Lahr, along with almost all of surveyed students who had heard of the surcharge, said they would still have chosen to come to Carlson School had the surcharge always been in place.

“It’s a great school,” Lahr said.

But many students expressed stronger opposition.

“It’s singling out Carlson School,” junior Sarah Wright said. “We shouldn’t pay extra for the correct class size. That should come with the package.”

Though the school added Hanson Hall in 2008 to accommodate increased demand, the school hasn’t been able to keep its faculty levels high enough, said Linda Cohen, chairwoman of the Board of Regents. While the number of Carlson School undergraduates increased by nearly 20 percent since 2007, the number of faculty has remained relatively stagnant.

Chris Nachtsheim, chairman in the department of operations management at Carlson School, said that hiring more faculty — especially tenure-track faculty — is one of the department’s goals.

The operations management department currently has 15 faculty members but could use about 18 if they had the resources to hire more, Nachtsheim said.

“I’m definitely in favor of what we can do to better serve the students,” Nachtsheim said. “This may be one of the only ways to reach those goals.”

The accounting department could also use more staff, said Frank Gigler, chairman of the department.

On average, class sizes are at reasonable levels in accounting courses, he said. But he said the upward trend of class sizes is a concern.

As one of few surveyed students who didn’t describe the surcharge as unfavorable, junior Tony Wilson said that he hopes the surcharge will decrease his class sizes.

“I’d rather pay more than be in a class of over 120 students,” he said.

After transferring from a community college, Wilson felt that class sizes at Carlson School were too big.

Wilson said the reason behind the surcharge is legitimate and is in line with other business colleges in the country.

Undergraduate business students at the University of Illinois, the University of Michigan, Penn State University, the University of Texas and the University of Wisconsin pay more than their peers, according to a 2009 Carlson School survey. Students in Illinois’ College of Business pay $4,824 more per year than the university’s other colleges.

“If it can make the improvements they say it will, then it’s worth it,” Wright said.

Other surveyed students expressed the same sentiment, hoping that the surcharge would increase Carlson School’s competitiveness overall in the country.

The Board of Regents will meet this Friday to decide on whether the surcharge will go into effect. If it does, Carlson School students are looking at an extra $500 charge to their student accounts for the 2012 year. The surcharge will continue to rise in $500 increments until it reaches $2,000 per year in 2015 and each subsequent year.

“We want to maintain the excellence of the Carlson School,” Cohen said.

Cohen said that she anticipates the proposal to go through in Friday’s meeting, but “one never knows until the board discusses.”

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