UC's proposed budget for 1997-98 contains one item that is completely new: a suggested "instructional technology fee" that would be used to boost the informational technologies available to UC students.
The Office of the President's proposal calls for the fee to start at $40 per student in 1997-98 and rise eventually to $200 per student. The fee should provide a net of $4 million for instructional technology in its first year. UCOP then hopes to persuade the state to match this amount of funding and intends to go to private industry in hopes of getting additional (perhaps "in-kind") contributions.
In an era of rapidly increasing fees, there is a general skepticism about adding any new fee to the load students already are carrying. UCOP officials therefore want campuses to implement plans that provide tangible benefits to students in return for the money they'll be paying. Skeptics have noted that not much in the way of hardware or software can be purchased for $40, but campus administrators believe that, when the new funds are made part of existing campus pools, they stand to provide demonstrable benefits for students.
"UC Santa Cruz spends about $1.7 million annually on instructional technology now," says Michael Tanner, UCSC's academic vice chancellor. At $40 per student, he says, the new fee would add about $400,000 to the amount his campus has to spend on instructional technology - a 20 percent increase. A $200 fee would more than double the amount the campus currently spends.
If the additional funds are approved, what will Santa Cruz be
doing with them? Tanner ticks off a list: Increase the amount
of software available in campus labs; provide greater general
student access to specialized software packages; wire dormitories
internally so that students who have their own computers can have
greater access to the Internet; make instructional facilities
meet the needs of the disabled; digitize local library collections;
increase off-campus access to the Internet; and improve student
access to electronic course information. UCSC also expects to
use the new money, Tanner says, to provide incentives to faculty
to integrate instructional technology into their classes. The
campus envisions a core of students, versed in creating Web pages,
to whom faculty could go to create pages for given classes.