Now that the 81st Legislative Session has adjourned, I want to share with you the outcomes of several issues important to UT Austin.
The Top 10% Law–Senate Bill 175, sponsored by Sen. Florence Shapiro and Rep. Dan Branch in the House, limited the number of top 10% Texas high school graduates automatically admitted to UT Austin. Instead of being required to admit all top 10% graduates of Texas public high schools, the new law restricts automatic admits at UT to 75% of the Texas high school students in our freshman class. The other 25% will be admitted based on all of an applicant’s qualifications, not merely class rank. The bill also limits the total out-of-state and international students to 10% of the freshman class. We currently have about 8% out-of-state and foreign students.
This legislation will give us much-needed control over our admissions process and help us develop a more ethnically and geographically diverse student body. It required enormous effort by many people, including Sen. Shapiro, Rep. Branch, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, and Texas House Speaker Joe Straus. While we will not gain as much flexibility as some proposed legislation offered, S.B. 175 enables us to regain control over the size of our freshman enrollment and gives us the ability to fill several important academic programs that don’t attract enough top 10% students. This legislation, which takes effect in fall 2011, is a great improvement.
State Appropriations–The net effect of UT Austin’s appropriations is that we will receive $22 million in additional recurring funds and $21 million in additional one-time funds for 2010-11 biennium. That translates into an annual increase of 4.2% above the previous fiscal year, although only 2.2% of that is recurring. Inflation in the U.S. in 2008 amounted to 3.8%. However, as we watch universities across the country grapple with budget cuts, we appreciate any increase in funding.
Tuition–Bills to revoke the ability of university boards of regents to set tuition did not pass. The UT System Board of Regents has set a maximum tuition increase of 4.95% for the 2009-10 academic year, to which UT Austin will adhere.
Many of you made your voices heard on these issues. Thank you! I appreciate everything you have done to support UT and higher education in Texas.
William Powers Jr.
The University of Texas at Austin