Chapel Hill, N.C. — The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill eliminated 500 classes this fall because of state budget cuts, meaning 16,000 fewer seats for students, according to a report to the Board of Trustees on Tuesday.
The flagship campus of the UNC system will slash its budget by $80.7 million in 2011-12, officials told the board. That amounts to about 3.4 percent of its overall budget.
Chancellor Holden Thorp said UNC-Chapel Hill could be forced to seek more tuition increases to make up for the lost revenue.
"We are going to have a tuition process that we have every fall and will be working with the Board of Governors on what the parameters are for that," Thorp said. "We think we have a significant opportunity to raise tuition without compromising access to the university."
The cuts were part of $414 million in spending reductions across the 17-campus university system called for in the budget, which used across-the-board cuts to close a $2.6 billion deficit without raising taxes.
Class sizes in UNC's College of Arts and Sciences have jumped by 23 percent this fall because of the loss of seats. Some schools have restricted enrollment – nursing is down by 25 percent and elementary education by a third – to keep classes small.
The budget cuts also will squeeze financial aid by $5.5 million to $7 million in 2012-13, officials said.
More than 3,000 filled jobs were cut by the UNC system because of the state budget. Another 1,487 vacant jobs were eliminated, while 508 positions that had been funded with state money are now funded through other sources.
The recent report to the UNC Board of Governors said state funding to the university system has been cut by almost $1.2 billion over the last four years.
Less state funding also forced the Chapel Hill campus to charge public school classes for the use of Morehead Planetarium & Science Center and delay repairing problems in buildings, officials said.
Another $20 million budget hole is looming in 2012-13, officials said, even if state support isn't cut further. UNC Health Care transferred that amount to the university system, including $5 million to the School of Medicine in Chapel Hill, to help cover some shortfalls.