By HDN Editorial Board
We at The Havre Daily News want to congratulate the Board of Regents for making the best of a difficult situation.
The regents, in raising the tuition rates at campuses of the Montana University System (MUS) last Friday, tried to temper the effects on the schools with lower enrollment, specifically UM-Western in Dillon and Northern in Havre.
In an effort to attract more students to those universities, the regents kept the tuition increases at Northern and Western to 5 percent for lower level students, compared to 13 percent for the other branches of MUS.
The alternative to an increase was a massive cut in programs, the regents said. Programs have already been cut enough, and the alternative of raising tuition was the better choice. Tiering the raise to support schools that have not had major increases in tuition will benefit the state and the system.
Part of the benefit will be allowing students who want to attend their local university a better opportunity to enroll. If the tuition in these smaller colleges took a sudden 13 percent jump, many of those students might decide it's better to leave state for college, or not to go to school at all.
It also encourages students to come to Northern and Western for the high quality programs offered by the universities. Northern is nationally, and even internationally, ranked in many of its programs. Encouraging students to come to take advantage of those programs is in the best interests of everyone.
Kudos to Commissioner of Higher Education Dr. Richard Crofts as well. He stated his intent to reallocate some of the money MSU-Bozeman and UM receive for their higher out-of-state enrollments back to the universities that can't attract quite as many nonresidents. In this time of difficult budgets, it is appropriate for the system to work together to make all of the campuses strong.
Until additional money is found for the programs of MUS, the alternatives will remain the same. Either raise the tuition, or cut programs and quality. Until the politicians follow through on their election-year promises to support education, it won't get any better.