Topic: Washington State University
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February 21, 2013 at 2:42 PM
OLYMPIA — Washington students are one step closer to having a larger role in decisions made by public university officials.
House Bill 1331, which allows student governments to form committees advising school administrations, passed the House on Wednesday, 95-1. Bill sponsor Rep. Marcus Riccelli, D-Spokane, said student input is becoming increasingly important, given rising tuition.
“As students are spending more on education, they deserve a seat at the table where these decisions are being made,” Riccelli said.
State statutes currently allow university students to form student governments that act as liaisons between student bodies and administrators. Student governments are already involved in setting and allocating activity fees, which fund services ranging from on-campus gyms to health centers.
Under the House bill, students could form a committee to advise the administration on issues affecting student access to education, including tuition levels and fees. The administration would then be required to provide the committee with all non-confidential information that students could use to make recommendations.
The University of Washington already has such a committee –- the Provost Advisory Committee for Students (PACS), which was implemented during the 2011-2012 school year. Margaret Shepherd, a lobbyist for the university, said University of Washington administrators support HB 1331.
Student representatives Angie Weiss, with the Associated Students of the University of Washington, and Tristan Hanon, with the Associated Students of Washington State University, also support the bill. Hanon said his student government has no trouble communicating with WSU President Elson Floyd, but he wants to preserve the right for students to come.
“I don’t want that to change, and I feel like this bill cements that precedent,” Hanon said.
The legislation must now move through the Senate before being sent to the governor’s desk. Sen. Barbara Bailey, an Oak Harbor Republican who chairs the Higher Education Committee, said the bill will be given a hearing within the next few weeks. She said she won’t form opinions until after she hears public testimony, and is unsure how the bill will fare on the Senate floor.
February 15, 2013 at 9:08 AM
Tuition rates for international students attending Washington’s state universities would increase by 20 percent if state Senate moves forward with a bill proposed by Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Medina. Tom intends the tuition increase to go toward Washington’s Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program, which is in need of additional funding.
Tom argued that the bill isn’t an attack on international students, but rather is more of a recognition that foreigners attending state universities are using public programs that they haven’t supported with taxes. Several representatives from Washington universities and student governments testified about the proposal Thursday before the Senate Higher Education Committee, but none supported it.
Angie Weiss, who represents the Associated Students of the University of Washington, said she’s glad Tom is looking for ways to fund GET, but international students shouldn’t be paying for a program they don’t use. She also expressed concern that international students might avoid Washington universities if their tuition is increased by such a significant amount.
“We would like to find a different way for [international students] to contribute,” Weiss said. “And we would like to find a different way to find the GET program.”
International students make up about 6 percent of Washington State University’s student body. But Tristan Hanon, an Associated Students of Washington State University representative, said their presence is greatly valued on campus. He said international students teach Washington residents to be global citizens and encourage them to explore study abroad opportunities. Hanon recently studied in England at the urging of a European friend.
University administrations are also wary of the tuition increase. University of Washington lobbyist Margaret Shepherd said UW officials worry the draft bill could lead to a sharp decrease in international student enrollment if enacted. International students make up about 10 percent of the university’s undergraduate population and about 14 percent of the graduate student population
February 1, 2013 at 1:22 PM
The latest attempt to address the escalating cost of higher education comes from Rep. Gerry Pollet, D-Seattle, who’s introduced a bill that would limit state college tuition increases to the rate of inflation through 2018.
HB 1624 aims to move Washington toward a 50-50 split between students and the state, with students paying half the cost of their education and the state paying the rest.
Currently, at the University of Washington, students pay about 70 percent of the cost of their education — this year, that’s tuition and fees of $12,400. The state pays for the rest, through appropriations to the university.
Pollet said his bill has support from both parties — from fellow Democrat Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, as well as Republicans Larry Haler of Richland and Hans Zeiger of Puyallup. Seaquist and Pollet are chair and co-chair of the House Higher Education Committee.
Pollet’s goal is to keep tuition at UW and Washington State University to about 10 percent of median household income, which is where it was five years ago. Currently, it’s grown to 20 percent of median household income, he said.
Pollet said keeping tuition in line with inflation would take an additional $198 million over the next biennium for both four-year schools and community colleges. In a separate bill Pollet has filed, HB 1494, he is proposing a doubling of the estate tax to help raise about $100 million per biennium for higher education.
Slowing tuition growth would have the added benefit of stabilizing the Guaranteed Tuition Education program, which is underfunded, Pollet said.
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