Mar 12, 2010

UVa, William and Mary, and Christopher Newport Explore Increases in Freshman Class Size

In conversations concerning proposals to increase the size of William and Mary’s incoming freshman class by 50 students, University Provost Mike Hallernan revealed that the College is among several Virginia public universities considering larger class size to help compensate for severe losses in state revenues.

According to Hallernan, the University of Virginia may be increasing its student body by as much as 1500 students over the next several years. He also indicated that Christopher Newport University officials discussed a plan at a recent board of visitors meeting to grow its current 4,900-member student body to more than 5,100 students and increase out-of-state students by up to 10 percent of total enrollment by 2016.

In recent years, higher education has taken a huge hit in Virginia. Although he declared education to be an important part of the state’s economic recovery and recommended few new funding reductions, Governor Bob McDonnell signaled he supports deep cuts proposed last fall by former Governor Tim Kaine, including a controversial plan to take about 5 percent of mandatory student fees paid to universities to help offset state budget problems.

To stem the flood of red ink, several Virginia universities implemented highly unusual mid-year tuition increases. William and Mary, the University of Mary Washington, Christopher Newport, as well as Virginia’s community college system were all forced to hike tuition for the second semester of this academic year.

In his announcement of mid-year tuition increases, William and Mary President Taylor Reveley said, “The financial outlook for 2010/11 looks even less promising than the situation this year.” While already producing grumbling about stress on academic programs and college facilities, the additional 50 freshmen would only make up for about $500,000 of a potential $6.7 million shortfall in William and Mary’s base budget.

Individual universities are waiting for the Virginia General Assembly to act on budget recommendations before setting tuition rates for next year. CNU has already warned students that a tuition increase is on the horizon. Given the state of the Commonwealth, it’s likely the rest will follow with a series of revenue-enhancing measures including tuition and class size increases as well as enrollment of additional out-of-state students who pay considerably more than their in-state classmates.

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