A lot of cuts academic and administrative University of Alaska Board of Regents approved Friday will save tens of the university system of millions of dollars.

Regent Karen Perdue, vice chairman of the board, called short the greatest reductions in the program in the university system in recent times. "It reflects the difficult economic times we are," he said in a press release.

hard, indeed. For years, the University of Alaska system has been at the edge of a financial precipice. The system has faced falling enrollment for nearly a decade, and year after year, decreasing state funds. A fusion between UA and UA Southeast Fairbanks is on the table and should be decided in October.

Jim Johnsen, president UA system, made a deal with the Republican governor of Alaska, Mike Dunleavy, in August 2019 cut $ 70 million in funds from the state budget system more than three years after Dunleavy uses a veto to cut $ 130 million from the previous months of the system. Now, Johnsen likely started at the front of the University of Wisconsin system, leaving UA with uncertainty leadership.

Above all, the pandemic has seriously damaged the economy of Alaska.

Academic recent administrative cuts are the last step by the regents to repair the system with liquidity problems and comprise a portion of the cuts Johnsen promised state.

"college cut $ 25 million this fiscal year and will cut another $ 25 million in FY21. In FY22, UA will have to be reduced by another $ 20 million, "Roberta Graham, university system spokeswoman said in an email. "The pandemic certainly adds substantially to the financial impact."

The board voted to cut or scale to more than 40 academic programs distributed on the three campuses, including bachelor of arts and bachelor's degrees in sociology at UA Anchorage and Fairbanks UA - the elimination of degree programs sociology of the system. Several other programs related to geography and environmental science will disappear, along with master's programs in chemistry and physics at the AU Fairbanks, among many others.

All programs will have individual plans interrupted Teach-out so that the affected students can finish their courses and degree programs, Graham said.

The reductions in academic programs will impact 700 students and 30 faculty members and staff. In addition, the system will launch a series of administrative cost reduction measures, including the suspension of a planned $ 6.5 million in salary increases, wage cuts of 166 executives through mandatory permits and other unspecified cuts the administrative costs of the entire system.

The new measures to reduce costs, although necessary, will not solve the financial problems in the long term the system, said Aims McGuinness, senior fellow at the National Center for Management Systems Higher Education. NCHEMS is a consulting group higher education nonprofit that has consulted for the system.

"The depth of the change will need in the coming years, the savings they need to achieve, can not be achieved solely by the school campus. They will require changes throughout the system, "McGuinness said.

Before making an agreement with Dunleavy, the board moved to declare economic restrictions in July 2019, and Johnsen presents a list of reforms to the system board. a plan that would have consolidated accreditation of the three universities in one included. Ultimately, none was approved.

The inscriptions on the three campuses have declined steadily in recent years. Between 2014 and 2018, the university system experienced a drop of 15.5 percent of the total enrollment of 31,522 students in 2014 to 26,641 in 2018. In 2019, enrollment dropped by another 4.8 percent.

Graham says that, like most universities, the pandemic has affected the prospects for enrollment for fall 2020.

"creative marketing campaigns However, each university UA in the system launched, and efforts are paying off, "he said. "However, for the fiscal year beginning July 1, the projected decline in the UA system is estimated at around 10 percent."

With declining enrollment comes a decrease in net tuition revenue. In fiscal year 2019, the university system took in just over $ 130 million in net tuition revenue. For fiscal year 2022, that number is more like $ 101 million, according to a report of the Board of Regents.

The State of Higher Education latest Finance Officers Association of Staff Advanced Training showed that in fiscal year 2019, Alaska had the second lowest-enrollment in public universities in the country after Washington, DC per full time equivalent student, who received the second largest amount of state appropriations.

Despite the compromise between Johnsen and Dunleavy, the university system can continue to suffer strokes in state funding. Coronavirus pandemic has destroyed several major Alaska industries, including oil and tourism.

oil revenues had been declining. Revenue fell to $ 8.9 billion in 2012 to $ 2 billion in fiscal year 2019, according to the Associated Press. The state oil income will fall to projects $ 720 million next year.

Falling oil money threatens oil checks the state, an annual payment of the state of Alaska as dividend income from oil. Alaska are strongly in favor of protecting checks and Dunleavy cited the program when it was initially moved to cut $ 136 million UA ​​system.

The cost of living in Alaska is extremely high, said Sally Johnstone, president of NCHEMS. She has worked closely with the Board of Regents of the AU.

"There is no feeling among the population that lives in Alaska you should be getting money from the government as opposed to services," Johnstone said. This attitude makes the game strong support for the annual controls as opposed to financing higher education.

Graham said that so far, the response to proposed budget cuts has been positive.

"Alaska faculties and the importance of higher education, and will continue to support," he said. "I hope the residents of Southeast Alaska to be very busy in the coming months as discussions on the University of Alaska Southeast starts."

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