The UW Oshkosh College of Business has implemented a new Student Technology Fee of $8 per course to offset the cost of replacing student computers in its labs.
According to the Student Technology Fee website, the $8 will cover the use of student computer labs and the replacement of computers every four years, totaling $78,000 per year.
The fee applies to all College of Business undergraduate courses except online classes, which are exempt to the $8-per-course fee due to online fees already attached.
The Student Technology Fee was approved by UWO Interim Provost and Vice Chancellor John Koker. According to Wisconsin Statute 36.27(1), the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System may establish special course fees as deemed necessary by the institution.
The College of Business delivers approximately 12,500 undergraduate enrollments per year. The fee would raise approximately $100,000 per year.
The plan was proposed in March, 2018 and put into effect for the first time this semester.
In the past, the technology fees were supported by the Lab Modification program, a program that allowed colleges to apply for money as part of UW System allocations.
According to UWO professor of information systems Jakob Iverson, the Lab Modification program was discontinued three years ago to not only the College of Business but to all colleges within UWO.
“We had no funding mechanism to replace computers or technology that was used by students,” Iverson said. “Rather than get rid of all the computers and technology, we looked around for ways we could fund this technology and realized this course fee was a way forward.”
Iverson said the College of Business didn’t have to come up with money to cover the fees until now.
“Some of it we were covering out of the college budget; we had some foundation gifts from donors,” Iverson said. “The fortunate part, a lot of these expenses are cyclical so when we replace computers in our lab, it’s a big expense in one year and then we don’t replace that for another four years. We were fortunate that we didn’t have to replace anything major in that time frame.”
Iverson also said other colleges are looking into solutions for the same problem.
“Every other college has the same issue that we have and departments as well,” Iverson said. “I know the Department of Journalism is struggling with what they are going to do, but I don’t know how they are planning on moving forward with a solution.”
Department chair and associate journalism professor Sara Steffes Hansen said faculty are discussing adding a course technology fee, but they would prefer not to charge their students for lab fees.
“Departments like journalism need to update our labs, especially with our focus on multimedia,” Steffes Hansen said. “With the funding and budget situation, the University approach to updating the lab has not been addressed, so we are caught between trying to update the labs and not having funding options.”
“That remains to be seen,” Koker said. “In other classes, fees have stayed the same for a long time, they have increased and they have even decreased. Any proposed change will be carefully reviewed.”
Iverson said the new fee is in addition to the existing Student Technology Fee all UWO students are currently paying for.
“Students are being charged a Student Technology Fee, about 2 percent of their tuition,” Iverson said. “We were unable to use that money for our purposes because that’s set aside for University-wide initiatives such as Wi-Fi on campus and printing.”
UWO College of Business student Shane Mann said he didn’t know about the $8 fee.
“I don’t think there was much transparency at all,” Mann said. “I don’t remember receiving an email about the fee; I mean it would have been nice to have gotten one.”