State schools brace for more budget cuts
In preparation for an estimated 10 percent reduction in state funding for fiscal year 2012-13, several Texas universities are looking at what options are available to them to help decrease spendwing.
“Certainly, we’re all aware of the challenging economic environment confronting the state,” UH Director of Media Relations Richard Bonnin said. “Our focus, as always, is in making sure we are spending taxpayer dollars in a prudent and efficient way, while also maintaining our commitment to provide the best possible education for our students.”
The anticipated cut will cost universities several millions of dollars a year.
At a University of Texas System Board of Regents meeting, UT-Austin President Williams Powers said that the reduction will cost his university $29 million a year and cause it to cut more than 600 staff and faculty jobs, which could lead to a decline in the educational experience if not enough courses and faculty are available to students.
“This (budget cut) will have an impact on the quality of educational offerings. It will affect time to graduation,” Powers told the Houston Chronicle.
The projected job losses are in addition to those that occurred with this year’s 5-percent cut in state funding.
“It would be hard to imagine a 10-percent cut without some actual layoffs,” Powers said.
Although some layoffs are expected, UT and Texas A&M University are offering buyouts for tenured faculty who meet certain requirements. Under the buyouts program, those selected would receive one or two years’ salary depending on what University and college they work for.
UH may also be heading down a similar path. Budget talks are slated for the next Board of Regents meeting.
Before any decisions are made, data will be collected and a community discussion, including all faculty and staff, will be held, Bonnin said.
UT is also considering reducing funding for some degree programs. UH, however, has not made any decisions regarding this topic.
“It’s hard enough getting the classes you want now; sometimes you have to wait a whole year because a class is full and it isn’t offered often,” business junior Rodrigo Recendez said. “Imagine what will happen once more faculty and classes are taken away.”
Texas universities are not the only ones cutting back due to budget shortfalls. The Center of Budget and Policy Priorities reported that 46 states have had budget cuts for state services in the past two years, including higher education.