WSU is advancing Washington industries …
WSU teams with aviation to develop sustainable aviation biofuels …
WSU partners to develop bioproducts that reduce dependence on petroleum imports …
WSU works with state commodity commissions to conduct needed agricultural research …
WSU developed the technology used for wood-plastic composites used for buildings …
WSU researchers work to improve dairy productivity and reduce disease …
WSU research has made Washington one of the world’s most productive wheat-growing regions …

In the News

Public university leaders continue call for reinvestment in higher ed

As the state legislature continues in the special session, university leaders are fanning out around the state to talk about the value of higher education and the need for adequate funding of the baseline maintenance and operation budget, which helps to keep tuition increases to a minimum. This article, in the Yakima-Herald-Republic,  highlights a visit to the region by University of Washington President Michael Young.

Dan Catchpole – Yakima Herald-Republic

YAKIMA, Wash. — By any measure, the University of Washington is one of the top research universities in the world. But it won’t stay that way without adequate state funding, said its president, Michael Young.

Speaking to the Yakima Herald-Republic’s editorial board Thursday, Young talked about the cost of college and how to pay for it, the value of UW’s academic programs and research and the school’s increasing entrance standards.

UW will probably have a small tuition increase next school year, said Young, who also spoke to the Downtown Rotary Club. But university officials won’t know how much of an increase until the Legislature finalizes the state budget, which it is supposed to do in the next couple of weeks.

School officials might have to wait a little while longer if legislators hold off on finishing the budget until after the state’s next revenue forecast comes out in mid-June.

Despite large tuition increases in recent years and ranking among the bottom of states in terms of taxpayer support per student, Washington relies less on tuition to pay for public higher education as do most states, according to a report produced last year by the State Higher Education Executive Officers.

UW helps cover those shortcomings by attracting huge sums of research dollars. The school receives more federal research and training money than any other public university.

The university has cut costs by streamlining operations, and its cost in inflation-adjusted dollars to educate a student has decreased since 1985, according to an internal study.

But Young dismissed “the notion that we can save our way to prosperity.”

Ultimately, the state has to find funds to support higher education, he said.

That is a tough assignment when state lawmakers are already having a hard time fulfilling the state Supreme Court’s order to adequately pay for public education through high school.

“I get that the state thinks that their obligation is constitutionally K-12,” Young said. “If you want to be Mississippi, you got it exactly right. If you want to be Washington, it’s K-16, at least.

“Whether that means tax increases or identifying particular streams of tax revenue that might be dedicated to higher education, I don’t know. I mean, I just really think that’s a debate the state has to have,” he said.

Also, public universities and colleges have to raise more resources for scholarships and tuition assistance, he said.

Despite rising costs, competition to get into UW has risen sharply in recent years. The incoming freshman class’ grade-point average — a key measure considered in college admissions — is 3.77.

“We’ll be turning down kids with 3.9s and 4.0s this year,” said Young, who took over the helm at UW two years ago.

Concerns that the school is admitting more out-of-state students, who pay more in tuition than students from Washington, are not true, he said. When UW was facing drastic budget cuts a few years ago, it did admit about 100 to 150 more out-of-state students — in a class of about 6,000 — as an emergency way to boost revenue. But that was a one-time action, he said.

Three of every four incoming students — freshmen and transfers — are state residents, according to Young.

While those students are paying noticeably higher tuition today than students were five years ago, UW also continues to provide vast amounts of tuition assistance, he said.

In addition to federal Pell Grants and state financial aid, UW, like many universities and colleges, helps cash-strapped students pay for classes with money from people paying full tuition and from private donations.

Despite rising tuition and competition, UW launched an initiative earlier this month to help people who hadn’t finished college earn degrees for about half the price of a traditional degree. The online-based program, which is partially funded with money from the Gates Foundation, only offers a degree in early childhood development for now, but will add more, Young said.

From groundbreaking research such as growing new heart tissue to helping people finish college, UW and public higher education directly benefits Washington, Young said, adding that the state has to make a commitment to supporting it.


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