University of Minnesota Board of Regents committees met Thursday to recommend the full board approve President Eric Kaler's six-year capital improvement plan and his 2014 operating budget, which includes increased funding for mental health resources on campus.
The Finance Committee discussed both short-term and long-term funding sources for the University’s $3.6 billion 2014 operating budget, which includes state appropriations, tuition and fee increases and redistributing funds between programs.
In addition to a 3 percent tuition increase for graduate and non-resident students at the University, the budget includes increased fees for specific courses and international students.
Some art classes and study abroad programs would see cost increases in the coming year, and international students would take on a new fee, said Julie Tonneson, associate vice president for budget and finance.
The fee for international students would be used to provide additional academic support for those students.
“This is really a fee designed to provide additional services to help these students be successful academically, so it would be for things like advising or tutoring…,” Tonneson said.
All students, will see a nearly $100 student services fee increase next year, due to the construction of a new recreational facility on the Twin Cities campus and increased funding for mental health services.
The Board of Regents Academic and Student Affairs Committee reviewed a presentation by Boynton Health Services Director Ferdinand Schlapper on current mental health issues facing students.
In his presentation, Schlapper noted a 9 percent uptick in Boynton Mental Health Clinic counseling services requests in the last 10 years. Schlapper said a correlation exists between students who are struggling mentally and lower grade point average. Currently, 27 percent of University of Minnesota students are diagnosed with at least one mental health issue.
Schlapper said some students who make appointments at Boynton Health Services may face up to a two-week waitlist period.
“If they have a two week wait for a series of mental health issues, that may be the end of their academic career,” he said.
Board of Regents chair Linda Cohen said she’d like to see preventative measures taken on the issue. She cited the possibility of freshman presented with more mental health service information during orientation.
Despite funding falling short at the end of this year's legislative session, the committee agreed to recommend funding the new ambulatory care facility and the last of a four-part biomedical facilities project on the Minneapolis campus.
If passed by the full Board, the nearly $300 million biomedical projects would receive more than $67 million in the coming year.