State News

Bowles: Budget cuts could limit university enrollment

Posted May 27, 2010

— University of North Carolina President Erskine Bowles said a budget proposal approved Thursday by a House subcommittee effectively caps enrollment at the system's 16 higher education campuses.

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education passed a spending plan that adds $139 million in discretionary cuts to the UNC system to the $100 million in 2010-11 cuts that lawmakers say were included in the budget they approved last summer.

N.C. State class, college class generic UNC officials say cuts will result in fewer, larger classes

"Fully understanding the impacts of these reductions will take some time," Bowles said in a statement. "In all of our previous analyses, we never imagined that reductions would reach this level."

The House proposal could lead to 1,700 positions being eliminated across the university system and would prevent enrollment from growing by more than 1 percent, he said. The UNC system also would get an extra $12 million to provide students financial aid instead of the $34.9 million officials requested, he said.

"This level of cuts would force us to reduce the numbers of students that we can accept on our campuses," he said. "Our current students would find themselves in far larger classes and would find that courses they need for graduation are no longer offered or are only offered sporadically."

Two days ago, the subcommittee called for $77 million in discretionary cuts, but lawmakers almost doubled that number in exchange for allowing UNC campuses to keep about $35 million from tuition increases and other concessions.

Bowles said the UNC system would have had to cut $104 million under Gov. Beverly Perdue's proposed budget and only $54 million under the budget approved last week by the Senate.

North Carolina State University Chancellor Randy Woodson called the recommended budget cuts "a big challenge."

"It certainly would get into the academic core," Woodson said. "I'm confident, at the end of the day, the General Assembly continues to support higher education. This budget proposed certainly doesn't reflect that level of support."

Rep. Ray Rapp, chairman of the education appropriations subcommittee, said funding decisions weren't easy in a second consecutive tight budget.

"We did have to make cuts, but I think we did cuts surgically. We didn't just go in and hammer one sector," said Rapp, D-Madison.

Overall, the education budget the subcommittee approved would increase spending by about $16 million over the initial draft presented Tuesday. Federal matching funds would add another $6 million to that total.

The plan would use $126 million from North Carolina Education Lottery profits to reduce class sizes in early grades. Rep. Rick Glazier of Fayetteville says the plan would help minimize teacher layoffs this fall.

Also, the subcommittee voted to restore $4.5 million in spending for assistant principals in public schools. The Senate and Perdue both wanted to cut that amount.

The North Carolina Association of School Administrators and the North Carolina School Boards Association issued a joint statement praising the budget proposal for trying to protect public schools from cuts.

“As local boards of education across the state are struggling to provide high quality education in a difficult economic climate, the House version of the budget will assist them in giving the children of this state the necessary tools to compete in the 21st century global economy,” said Leanne Winner, director of governmental relations for the School Boards Association.

The House expects to vote on a final state budget proposal next week, and lawmakers will then have to work out a compromise between that and the Senate budget.

Lawmakers said they don't expect the Senate to go along with the House's proposed cuts to the UNC system, but faculty and students remain concerned.

"I definitely don't want (budget cuts)," N.C. State junior Doretta Gaudreau said. "I totally prefer smaller classes, and you get more attention from teachers and teachers know your name."


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  • no contest May 28, 2010

    What about the millions and millions of endowment money and investment money that they are sitting on? I say if they need to cut like we all HAVE to then let the cuts be made. If something like museums, public TV and parks run low on funds then it is time for the cuts to begin. I think people have learned that some things we have been taking for granted just need to be reduced or cut.

  • uncrulez May 28, 2010

    My friends and I realize that the tuition we paid doesn't come close to covering the true costs. I figure the state taxpayers subsidized my education by about $12,000 per year. So I owe the people about $50,000. In a couple weeks, I'll start repaying that debt.

    But it is a lot more than just the money. The things I learned, the experiences I had and the friends I made are priceless.

    Until my last breath, I'll be extremely grateful to the people of North Carolina for their generosity. I know my friends feel the same way.

  • ORMA May 28, 2010

    If you want to save the university system some serious money, cap the salaries of the professors. Do you really need to be making over $125,000 to teach some classes? There is a professor at the ECU medical school that is making over $750,000 a year!! For what?!?!? And how much is the state paying for chancellor houses, upkeep, maid service, country club memberships, etc.?

  • toughcookiemom May 28, 2010

    Carolina2010alum....Congratulations! Very well stated, I wish you all the best:)

  • Wiser_now May 28, 2010

    What's wrong with capping enrollment? Is this the only college in existence?

  • gingerlynn May 28, 2010

    Carolina Alum-
    Exactly. Almost all of these students come in having "passed" algebra I and algebra II in high school. Yet they make a 360 on the math SAT and are admitted. If on a placement test you do not score high enough, you should go to community college. Don't let these kids rack up high student loans because most of them (there are exceptions) end up exactly as you state, unsuccessful

  • uncrulez May 28, 2010

    I don't think they should teach basic math at any four year campus of the University of North Carolina. If a student hasn't mastered basic math, I doubt they would be successful anyway. That being the case, those students should go to community college until they have completed the basic requirements for entry into the UNC.

    If people want to force all students to go to community college first, I would have gone to a private university.

  • gingerlynn May 28, 2010

    carolina2010alum- carolina and state are very competitive to get into and I would surmise many of the students are quite prepared. However there are 14 other UNC campuses where it is not uncommon to see classes full in (MATH 1000. Introductory College Algebra). My husband teaches this regularly and has people fail it 2 or three times. "I am just not good at math" Good luck to you in your career. But it sounds like you do not need luck because you have a combination of intelligence and work ethic. This is the exception not the rule at many of the UNC campuses

  • kikinc May 28, 2010

    carolina2010alum-gingerlynn is correct. There are many students, NOT all, who take remedial courses more than once b/c they are too busy indulging in other college activities, such as partying and boozing it up. I graduated summa cum laude with a double major in 5 years. I took 8 AP courses in HS. I was an exception.

    And they teach basic math at every school. You were lucky enough to excel. Since it sounds like you threw yourself directly into your major, you didn't have a lot of experience with the 18 year olds who just go to college to move out of their house. It happens more than you think. Be very thankful you did well. Not everyone does.

  • uncrulez May 28, 2010

    I just graduated from Carolina. All of my classmates did very well in high school. As such, we were well prepared and did very well at Carolina. Several friends and I graduated with distinction. So I don't know where some of you are getting your information about college students not being prepared. Everybody I know had taken AP Calculus in high school so I don't know why gingerlynn thinks many students need to retake basic math. I don't even think they teach basic math at Carolina.

    I was hired in December and start work in two weeks. Starting pay is $65k. I'm looking to buy a house in Apex sometime this summer.

    In my case, the state university system did exactly what it was supposed to do--gave me an education that is in demand by local companies. Over the course of my lifetime, through direct taxes and local spending, I'll more than pay the taxpayers back for their generous support of the University of North Carolina.

    Education is an investment, not an expense.