HECC reverses course, approves tuition increase

In an 8–0 vote, the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission approved an 8.37 percent increase in tuition for Portland State that would see full-time residents paying $693 more. This vote comes two weeks after HECC fell one vote short of approving PSU’s request after concerns about student engagement were raised.

After the first failed vote, PSU’s Board of Trustees passed a resolution that would reduce the tuition increase incrementally, contingent upon legislative action to increase state funding of higher education. This was in response to a key condition for approval of the tuition increase.

In announcing the vote, HECC also released a copy of a statement outlining expectations of the tuition increase approval, which insists PSU “deepen student involvement in tuition-setting processes,” “protect resources for underserved students,” and urges that PSU not return with an increase over 5 percent next budget year.

HECC also expressed a desire to see more action from the Legislature.

“[W]e are continuing conversations with the Legislature in hope they are able to increase funding levels so that these unfortunate increases can be mitigated for all,” wrote HECC Chair Neil Bryant.

In a statement released Thursday night, PSU President Wim Wiewel expressed little enthusiasm for the increase and instead turned his administration’s attention to efforts to change the Legislature’s current course on higher education funding.

“Oregonians deserve something better than management by crisis,” Wiewel stated. “Hunkering down in bad times and hoping for good times is not a strategy.”

Reflecting this proactive outlook, Wiewel pressed the PSU community to act on advocating for assistance from the state capital.

“We urge everyone to communicate this to your elected representatives,” Wiewel stated. “We are working closely with students, our trustees, faculty, staff and others to deliver this message to Salem.”