Why UT’s response to the transcript outrage isn’t enough
People are really pissed
The University of Texas at Austin implemented a sudden transcript price increase from $10 to $20 in September, the first time transcript prices have increased since 2001, so what could possibly be the reason for this drastic change?
The rise is pretty unexplained
According to the university’s registrar, the price increase is to cover the cost of operating, like authenticated software, which make sure information about your grades is kept private, and paying staff. Unless they’ve suddenly upgraded to military style security, there’s not really an explanation of the cost.
Tuition prices have increased roughly 22 percent since 2001, so students are wondering why the costs of these resources not covered in the tuition prices, and if the prices were raised in line with inflation, the cost should only be $13.60.
This will hit poorest students hardest
Students from all backgrounds have expressed their concerns about how the price increases of transcripts forces them to limit the graduate schools they plan to apply to, and how it especially burdens students that rely on financial aid.
Applying to graduate schools and ordering transcripts can be very costly and there is no way to avoid the fee. It paves the way for the university to increase the price of other resources used by students.
There’s been serious student backlash
Students have become furious and have started a petition to protest the change, which has over 6,000 signatures.
To deal with the outrage of students’ opinions on the matter, the university’s Senate of College Councils held an open forum, allowing students to openly address their concerns about transcripts. Speaking on behalf of the registrar was Shelby Stanfield, Vice Provost of Registrar.
Students went in hard on Stanfield
When I say that the environment was tense in that room, I am not lying. I initially felt bad for Stanfield for getting grilled by students because he’s not solely responsible for raising the fee, but our voices as students needed to be heard.
Some students are giving everything they have towards this institution, and to add on another cost is absurd. Transcripts aren’t optional to apply for graduate programs.
He did his best, but didn’t answer the key question
Stanfield answered most questions to the best of his ability, but he avoided the main question – why the hell are students paying for resources that should already be covered in our tuition or covered by the school? These questions have yet to be answered, however the registrar is taking students’ opinions into consideration.
We understand that the registrar has expenses to cover, but so do we. One student from the audience mentioned how he’s working more than 20 hours/week and is a full-time student. Most of his paycheck should not be going towards the price of transcripts because he also has other expenses to cover, like eating, and paying for a roof over his head.
I hope, along with other UT students, that the registrar takes our emotions and financial resources into consideration before increasing prices of whatever else next time. Is it fair that we have to pay the price this time? No.
However, this is a platform for student voices to become more powerful in addressing their needs/wants with this university.