Facing unprecedented state budget cuts, the University of Maryland Board of Regents today approved a one-semester, 15 percent tuition surcharge, to take effect in January, and a plan to restructure the UM system by merging some campuses and academic programs.
The January tuition surcharge will average $150 a student across the system. Students at UM Baltimore's professional schools will pay a 7.5 percent surcharge.
The regents also approved a preliminary increase of 4 percent in 1992 tuition charges, effective next fall. That tuition rise could go higher if the UM system is cut further in the wake of state tax revenues declines.
The tuition surcharge and the "strategic redeployment" plan for the 11-campus system were sparked by a $24.1 million cut in the system's 1992 budget.
Last year, the system cut its budget by $60 million because of state revenue shortfalls.
"It is never a very good time to do something like this," said UM Chancellor Donald Langenberg of the January 1992 tuition surcharge. "It is preferable to have a year's notice.
"We have come to the end of our rope, and it is unfortunately necessary to force part of the burden of the cost-containment process on our students."
David Cameron, a Towson State University senior, who is vice chair of the University System Student Council, urged the regents to vote against the surcharge proposal.
"The students are paying more and we are receiving less," he said. "I see this like buying a car and not getting tires in the deal."
The proposal passed with only one dissenting vote, cast by Chad Gobel, the student regent.
Langenberg said the system is bracing for further state budget cuts this year. The regents also approved his plan to impose system-wide furloughs on the campuses as a short-term way to reduce costs.
Langenberg said five UM institutions have already agreed to one- or two-day furloughs this year for all employees, including faculty.
The chancellor said the furloughs will not interrupt classes.
The regents also approved creation of a Select Committee on Unification to study the consolidation of administration and academic programs of UM at Baltimore and UMBC. At the same time, the Maryland Higher Education Commission has formed a task force to study a merger between Morgan State University and Coppin State College as a way to cut state costs and avoid duplication in higher education.
The topic of merger was part of Langenberg's "redeployment" plan approved by the regents. Mergers would have to be approved by the General Assembly.
The plan also calls for reshuffling priorities for academics, services and activities, and a review of student fees for athletics, which may be reduced to offset tuition increases.