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TAs to get increased tuition assistance

BY JUSTIN SUGG | FEBRUARY 23, 2009 7:30 AM

The UI will provide nearly 100 percent tuition assistance to teaching assistants by 2011 as part of the graduate students’ new contract with the state Board of Regents, said Mark Salisbury, the president of the Campaign to Organize Graduate Students.

But despite this good news for the assistants, some worry their job won’t be there next year.
Salisbury confirmed the university will provide teaching assistants with $2,616 in tuition scholarships for nine semester hours of teaching in the 2009-10 term and $3,612 — comparable to in-state tuition — for the 2010-11 term. This is only about a $150 increase in the 2009-10 for teaching assistants, though in 2010-11 of the contract they would receive $1,150 more, Salisbury said.

In comparison, Iowa State University master’s students receive $1,611.50 at a half-time or greater appointment, and $3,223 — equal to a year’s tuition — for doctorate students at full-time appointment.

UI Provost Wallace Loh congratulated both the regents and COGS on reaching the new agreement.
Loh indicated the teaching assistant tuition assistance increase will be funded by future UI revenue, such as tuition and fees. He added university officials are looking at other ways to allocate the funds, noting the money may inevitably come from other departments.

“Some departments will grow, some will be stable, and some will shrink,” Loh said, noting that the UI may consolidate smaller departments.

Some departments may ultimately balance budgets at the expense of teaching assistants. Sharada Price, a graduate student in the classics department, said she was told the department will not be hiring new teaching assistants next year.

Though Loh said there is likely to be a reduction in teaching assistants, any current figures are speculative.

Discussion of possible teaching assistant cutbacks has persisted throughout COGS officials’ negotiations with the regents.

COGS office manager Jillian Moore said she has heard speculation officials at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences plan to cut at least 40 teaching assistants.

Rumblings of teaching-assistant reductions was enough to motivate COGS members to organize a demonstration on the T. Anne Cleary Walkway on Feb. 12 against the possible cuts.

Statistics lecturer Blake Whitten said if UI officials decide to reduce the number of teaching assistants, the impact will be significant and negative.

“It affects the quality of education,” he said. “There’s going to be bigger class sizes and less attention to students.”


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