"We shouldn't go down a road like that without significant debate," said UNC system President Tom Ross, "because it has huge implications for the future of the state and the health of its economy."
Some hard numbers (from the Observer article):
◘ In 1990, the state provided 81 percent of the money used to teach undergraduate students in the UNC system, according to system data. By last year, that share had fallen to 63.8 percent.
◘ Meanwhile, tuition has risen steadily - up about 175 percent since 2000. At N.C. State, for example, in-state undergrads paid $1,861 in tuition in 2000-01; this year, they're paying $5,153.
◘ A year ago, the cost of public higher education went up twice, first in the UNC system's regular process, and then again in late summer after the legislature signed off on it as a stopgap measure to help plug a massive budget hole.
◘ The dual increases drove rates as much as 18 percent higher on some campuses.
The article points out that so far students have mainly "acquiesced" in this shifting of the burden on paying for college. Maybe that's coming to an end? A protest walk-out last Thursday on the ASU campus might be indicative of students beginning to wake up a bit to what's going on with their futures.
It happens that the sole student member of the UNC system's Board of Governors is an ASU graduate student, Atul Bhula. He is quoted in the Charlotte Observer article: "I'm afraid of this General Assembly moving tuition from a secondary source to a primary source of revenue. I think the General Assembly needs to be reminded of its constitutional mandate."
"Constitutional mandate"? Why, yes, the NC Constitution actually demands "an affordable public university."
The current bunch in control of the General Assembly seem to be unfamiliar with that concept.