CORRECTION on March 8, 12:50 p.m.: The Tuition and Fees Strategy Committee (TFSC) was previously cited in this article as the committee that increased the engineering course fees, when it was actually the College Tuition Committee (CTC) that voted 11-6 in favor of an increase in engineering course fees.
The College Tuition Committee (CTC) voted 11-6 in favor of an increase to engineering course fees Tuesday.
The $15 per credit hour fee increase will be tacked on to the College of Engineering’s faculty salary surcharge, raising it from $65 to $80. With the $19 per credit hour equipment fee, engineering course fees will reach $99 per credit hour.
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The College of Engineering already has the highest course fees out of all other colleges at Kansas State, with the second-highest being the $65 course fee in the College of Business Administration.
The proposal will be passed on to the Tuition and Fees Strategies Committee (TFSC) for review before being sent to the university president.
Jordan Martin, senior in computer science, voted against the proposal, citing flaws in the student survey that Darren Dawson, dean of the College of Engineering, used to build support for the increase. Martin said engineering students were not properly informed on the implications of the fee increase, as department heads used class time to introduce the fee as a department fee without taking questions.
“When students don’t understand the issues, it’s hard for them to make an informed decision,” Martin said. “Especially when the department head wouldn’t even allow discussion in class.”
Ryan Kelly, junior in civil engineering, also said the survey inaccurately presented the college-wide fee as a department-wide fee.
“Dean Dawson often talks about all the students that voted, how there’s a two to one margin, two-thirds of the college voted, but this proposal is not what they voted for,” Kelly said.
Provost and senior vice president of K-State, April Mason, agreed that the fee was not presented to students as a college-wide fee, but that students still voted to approve the fee in question.
“The fee came to me as eight different college fees, so I think that wasn’t misleading you,” Mason said. “That’s what was sent to me, but I said ‘That’s silly. I’m not going to take eight department fees to the Board of Regents.’ So I will take complete and utter responsibility for it being a college fee, although it was presented to you as a department fee.”
Debate in support of the fee increase centered on the College of Engineering’s Faculty Development Initiative to add 35 new faculty members to the college in the span of five years.
Kahao Lim, graduate student in civil engineering and member of the Graduate Student Council, said there are “very few” graduate students who oppose the fee increase because it can help recruit faculty members who will encourage research.
“We figure that, as graduate students here, the value of our degree is just so tied to the research that middling there is not good enough,” Lim said. “This is something that we feel we cannot compromise on for this fee.”
The argument then turned to the value of faculty compared to instructors.
Proponents of hiring instructors as opposed to faculty said it would solve problems of wait-listing within the college, as they are more numerous and cheaper. On the other hand, Lim said more faculty members would bolster rankings for graduate programs in engineering and provide “external opportunities,” such as research and industry partnerships, although they do cost more money.
Chase Brokke, junior in industrial engineering and vice president of the Engineering Student Council, said failing to increase the numbers of faculty members will cause engineering programs to stagnate.
“For us just to say that we’re not going to put in any more money to get these searches going or to get more faculty kind of feels like we’re leaving the system out to dry,” Brokke said. “We’re leaving our faculty out to dry. We’re not growing our departments when we have the option to try and do that.”