Editor’s note: This is the first story in a series analyzing fee proposals under consideration by K-State.
The College of Business Administration is proposing a $15 per-credit-hour fee increase to hire more faculty and staff in an effort to improve the quality of education. The fee proposal is the second phase of a three-phase plan to raise the fee to $45 per credit hour, according to the college’s fee proposal.
“The full three-year proposal is designed to make our class sizes and total class offerings more competitive with other schools,” Stacy Kovar, associate dean and professor of accounting, said.
The proposed $15 increase would generate an additional $750,000 of revenue. With a full $45 fee, the college estimates a revenue of $2.25 million per year.
The college would use the funds to hire 14 new faculty, two new advisers, make a current part-time adviser a full-time adviser and hire other staff.
There are currently 46 students for every one full-time faculty member. After the three-year plan, that number would drop to 38 students. The student-adviser ratio would decrease from 473 students to 325 students per adviser.
While the decrease in the student-to-faculty ratio may not appear significant, the fee proposal states the biggest impact of the new faculty will be on large classes.
From the first phase of the fee alone and the hiring of additional instructors, four core business courses have seen decreases in class sizes. Finance 450 class sizes were cut from 380 to 75, Management 420 dropped from 190 to 70, Marketing 400 decreased from 110 to 83 and Management 366 was reduced from 145 to 45.
“The goal is to make our class sizes better for the student in the class to succeed,” Kovar said.
Corben Tannahill, freshman in marketing, said he has not taken Finance 450 yet.
“I’ve heard about it, horror stories, and I hear they’re going to smaller classes,” Tannahill said. “I’m like, ‘Yes, thank you.’ That would be my one hope to get through (Finance 450).”
Tannahill said he supports the fee increase if it means smaller class sizes.
“Awesome, do it,” Tannahill said. “I don’t care about 45 bucks if it means I get a B in Finance 450 instead of a D.”
Ben Weigel, freshman in finance, said large classes have a worse learning environment than smaller classes.
“I’ve noticed in my management class, even to speak up in class, the students seem to be more intimidated to do that given that it’s a larger class size,” Weigel said. “There’s less engagement in class.”
Madison Degnan, freshman in management information systems, said she supports smaller class sizes.
“I’m excited to be more connected with the teacher and be more personable,” Degnan said.
Better opportunities for students
“If we think about our 2025 strategic plan for our college, the goal is to be able to offer better opportunities for our students when they graduate,” Kovar said.
With additional faculty, the college will also be able to offer new courses. One of those classes, an accounting systems course, is a new accreditation requirement. Kovar said if the class is not added, the accounting major will probably not remain accredited in the future.
“The accreditation follows typically the needs and demands of those professions,” Kovar said.
Even if the fee proposal is not approved, Kovar said the college will find a way to offer the class so the accounting major can remain accredited. Offering the class, though, may come at the expense of class sizes for other courses.
“If the fee proposal is not approved,” Kovar said, “we won’t be able to make the reductions in some of these class sizes that we have, and we’re continuing to not be able to offer new things that are important, or if we offer them … we’re going to have to offer it in a larger lecture format.”
Class sizes are not a new issue. Historically, the college has not had enough faculty for the number of students, Kovar said. With the growing student enrollment in the college, the problem is compounded.
“Over the last five years, we’ve grown every year,” Kovar said. “Now think about it, 50 students. What does that mean for Accounting 231, when the size of the class is 50? Well, every year you really should have to be adding one more section. So over five years, you add 50 every year, you need another faculty member.”
Kovar said class sizes are important for the quality of education, and that in turn is important for attracting students and making them more competitive in the job market.
“You’re not just going to compete with KU students when you leave, right,” Kovar said. “You need a quality experience that’s competitive with anybody in the nation. That’s what we care about the most.”
According to information provided by Kovar, the University of Kansas business school has 17 students per faculty, compared to the 38 students per faculty that K-State will have after the fee.
At KU, a combination of the university fees, tuition and business fees equates to $501 per credit hour. If all fee increases are approved, K-State would cost $384 per credit hour.
More comparative information can be found on the college’s fee proposal webpage.
Increased scholarships help offset costs
According to the fee proposal, a growth in scholarship funds can help offset the increase to the cost of attendance. In 2010, the college awarded $755,122 in scholarships. In fall 2016, that number will grow to $1.35 million.
“We hope that alumni continue to see the good stuff that we’re doing,” Kovar said. “Some of them want to give to scholarships, some of them may choose to support faculty because they know that that, too, is important.”
Kovar said none of the increased scholarship aid came from tuition and fees or state aid.
“All of that scholarship aid is alumni and other donors who come back and say, ‘I want to make your experience better. I want us to allow our students to be more successful. I want us to have a more prestigious program that students can really succeed and we can attract the best students,'” Kovar said.