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Oregon State rewards incoming students with higher tuition for worse experience under COVID-19 restrictions

‘Continuing students have fewer options than a new student does’

You’d think public universities would appreciate the fact that mandatory online classes during the COVID-19 outbreak are less valuable than in-person learning, where they can build professional connections and take advantage of networking opportunities.

Oregon State University does not appreciate that fact.

The taxpayer-funded institution’s Board of Trustees is raising tuition on incoming undergraduates by 3.2 percent as a purported compromise, The Daily Barometer reports. Trustees considered three options at a Friday teleconference:

Scenario A would increase costs for all continuing and new students, 3.2% for residents and 3.2% for non-residents. Under Scenario B, there would be no increase for continuing undergraduate students, yet new undergraduates—residents and non-residents—would see a 3.2% increase. Scenario C suggested no increase for all resident students, and a 3.2% increase for all non-resident students.

Sherm Bloomer, associate vice president of budget and resource planning, sold the board a glass-half-empty story about the selective tuition increase, portraying OSU as noble toward current students burdened by coronavirus:

“Adding a tuition increase for those continuing students could communicate to them that we don’t recognize that changed experience—that we don’t recognize the challenges that they face—and could cause some of them to choose not to come back to OSU,” Bloomer said. “Those continuing students have fewer options than a new student does, because they already made an investment in OSU—they’ve committed time, they’ve committed resources, they’ve committed energy in making progress toward their degree.”

Of course, those students who took a chance on OSU have now been rewarded with paying more for an objectively worse experience.

The trustees somewhat lessened the slap in the face to incoming students by also voting to cut “incidental fees” for spring term, following discussions with student government leaders. Students at the flagship Corvallis campus will save $45 in fees while those at the Cascades campus will save a whopping $156, paying less than half as much as they used to.

They approved another big change on a tight deadline: replacing the state-supplied police force with its own sworn and armed officers by July 1.

Read the article.

MORE: See which universities refuse to reduce spring tuition as classes move online

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg spent several years as a technology policy reporter and editor for Warren Communications News in Washington, D.C., and guest host on C-SPAN’s “The Communicators.” He co-founded the alternative newspaper PUNCH and served as a reporter, editor and columnist for The Falcon at Seattle Pacific University.

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