EDITORIAL: Acknowledge implications of the tuition hike for students
This past Friday, University President Ronald Liebowitz announced a 3.75 percent increase in comprehensive undergraduate charges. This follows a similar tuition hike of 3.9 percent last year and a 3.7 percent increase the previous year. This board understands the necessity of such hikes to the University’s various educational and extracurricular initiatives. However, this board urges the University to continue its transparency with regard to the allocation of tuition funds and to work toward a stable, non-increasing tuition structure.
Unlike the University’s April 1, 2016 email, which outlined the reasons for and impacts of the increase, Liebowitz’s April 28, 2017 email failed to explain the reasoning for the hike or mention any plan for the new funds. In September of 2016, Liebowitz clearly stated his desire for transparency among those outside of the University faculty, something which is lacking in this recent announcement. Without such transparency, the University will continue to aggravate students who see tuition hikes as unnecessary and unsustainable.
In a Monday email to the Justice, Liebowitz explained that revenue from tuition increases will be put toward “institutional priorities: supporting our exceptional faculty, providing financial assistance for outstanding students who otherwise couldn’t attend our university, and maintaining the campus.”
Though this board acknowledges the necessity of such tuition hikes and the standardization of the process across American campuses, President Liebowitz explicitly stated his concern with ongoing tuition hikes and their unsustainability. In a September 2016 email to the Justice, Liebowitz explained, “Ideally, we need to reduce our dependency on tuition and reduce annual increases. That’s a goal.” However, such a goal does not seem to have been met, as tuition hikes continue. In Monday’s email to the Justice, Liebowitz wrote, “I stand by my previous observation that our annual increases need to be reduced over time, and we must keep that goal in sight.” He stressed that reducing tuition hikes can only be achieved through “multi-year efforts” such as “increased levels of philanthropy and alumni engagement.”
Considering the University’s precarious financial state, it is crucial that the University continues to push for these large-scale alternative sources of revenue. According to a September 2016 presentation from economist and consultant Kermit Daniel, Brandeis draws about 44 percent of its annual budget from tuition — an unsustainable practice. In announcing Liebowitz’s appointment as president, Board of Trustees members praised his ability to fundraise; however, his efforts have not yet proven sufficient.
As such, this board urges the University to update the student body on its financial stability and clearly outline where tuition increases will be directed. This will both soothe students and create accountability on the University’s part.