University officials push back at proposal to refund tuition for online classes

Capitol Bureau

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TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT)— Kansas lawmakers are considering a proposal that would require universities to return tuition to students for days they were not in class due to the pandemic.

Higher education officials testified to lawmakers in a House Appropriations Committee on Thursday, with some citing significant losses from reduced tuition and decreased enrollment.

President Richard Myers of Kansas State University noted the institution is expecting $96 million in losses this past fiscal year.

The University implemented deep budget cuts and designated COVID-19 funding to open and operate the campuses safely while adhering to a hybrid learning model.

“For some, we understand that it was not ideal. But, our obligation is to get the knowledge to the students, and we did that,” Myers told Kansas’ Capitol Bureau.

University presidents argued they’ve been successful in teaching students despite having to adapt to remote learning. Myers boasted that 95% of students at his institution have secured jobs after graduation, with the average salary holding steady at $50,000.

The proposal was pushed by some lawmakers that are concerned by the quality of education students are receiving with limited in-person classes. It would require a full refund for any canceled classes and students would receive half of their tuition back for days classes were online.

Public universities are expecting to resume full in-person classes during the fall semester.

This comes as some institutions face state budget cuts in the governor’s proposed budget plan, with the state’s legislative research department predicting a $37.4 million reduction in state general funding for higher education.

Watch the full hearing below:

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