Arkansas Tech University, we would all agree, is a great university for higher education. But let’s look at it down to the numbers.
We are the second in the nation for community service hours, according to the NCAA DII Athletics. Not to mention, we are the third largest university in Arkansas. Tech’s nursing program is ranked in the top 1 percent in the nation, and Tech awards more STEM degrees to native Arkansans than any other university, according to the Tech website.
We also have over 170 Registered Student Organizations, 15 Greek organizations and 10 sports teams, plus intermural sports. Tech also provides a multitude of opportunities for students to get involved with over 1,000 events each semester.
Tech has long held to the line of thought that they wanted to provide a home-like atmosphere for their students, which means remaining small enough to provide small, intimate classes while still growing. And with a student to teacher ratio of around 19:1, Tech seems to have achieved this goal.
And, let’s face it: Tech feels like home. If you’re from a rural area, the abundance of nature trails around Russellville, the lush greenery and the calmly grazing cattle help you to feel more like you’re at home. If you’re from a more urban area, the slowness can be both annoying and really relaxing depending on your point of view. Regardless, Tech has become home to most of us who chose this university. And Tech hasn’t disappointed.
Tech consistently proves to have high enrollment and amazing benefits to help students succeed before, during and after college.
And yet. Every year, we are underfunded by the state even with our high ratings and endless opportunities.
Last year, we were funded $31,995,946 while the University at Little Rock was given $62,378,372, while University of Central Arkansas was given $58,064,142. Both of their enrollment for fall 2016 was lower than Tech’s.
Comparing it to UCA, we were given $26,068,196 less. In fall 2017, UCA’s enrollment stood at 11,350, while ours was at 11,800. This semester, we hit an impressive 12,071. With these numbers, the Arka Tech believes that it is long overdue for the state to fund Tech just as much as UCA, if not more. After all, we have consistently higher records of enrollment.
Tech also has a lower tuition rate than UCA. According to their respective websites, for 15 undergraduate hours, Tech charges around $3,400; UCA, on the other hand, charges around $4,200 for the same number of undergraduate hours.
Last week, the Arka Tech team wrote an editorial encouraging students and faculty to vote. The Arka Tech is reiterating this statement. While you consider which candidates to support, we implore you to vote for local candidates that are pro-Tech. Meaning, candidates who have Arkansas Tech’s best interest at heart and want our university to succeed always.
The funding inequity did not happen overnight. Tech has been underfunded, compared to other campuses, for many years. It was not fair when the levels of inequity began to grow and it obviously is even less fair now as the funding gap has grown. Despite that long tradition of funding inequity, we should not simply shrug our shoulders, thinking there is nothing we can do to change the situation.
It starts with a student. It starts with a faculty member. It starts with you. To succeed, it starts with your ballot to change an inequality in funding for Tech. That vote with a pro-Tech candidate can change the numbers. And changing the numbers will inevitably change how we experience Tech and improve it for the better.