A struggle for power

The University and state government are battling over tuition costs and state funding recently, but will students benefit?

Daily Editorial Board

 

The House Higher Education Committee ap­proved legislation last Monday requesting that the University of Minnesota be more transparent with its spending of taxpayer dollars.

Because of its autonomy, the University doesn’t have to follow guidelines set by the state, but the struggle for funding may make this obligation a re­ality. It’s not exactly a mystery that the University and President Eric Kaler have struggled on several issues with the Legislature recently — such as Uni­versity transparency, rising tuition costs and state funding. Now Kaler and the Legislature are in a power play — with the state being forced to increase funding to prevent a tuition increase, and with the University increasing transparency and decreasing administrative costs for more state funding.

Under the proposal, the University would submit a report on tuition increases every other March. Though not a requirement of the University, this report, much like the third-party assessment of administrative costs Kaler submitted last month, is one necessity the University must fulfill. The Univer­sity has a privileged status outside state law, but ulti­mately they must be held more accountable to the two parties supplying its funding: students and the state government. Perhaps beginning with the infa­mous Dec. 28, 2012, Wall Street Journal article, the University administration is now in the public eye. Regardless if the problem is as bad as some in the Legislature believe it is, the University should save face and follow through with requests for increased transparency.

The state Legislature also needs to take into con­sideration that state funding used to have a much larger place in public university funding — with gov­ernment subsidies dropping per student and tuition increasing nationwide. As the state’s only land-grant institution, the Legislature must seek a middle-ground with the University to support Kaler’s pro­posed tuition freeze — from this, students will see a better University.