The University of Texas of the Permian Basin will be the first university in Texas to offer a $10,000 four-year degree program.
The Texas Science Scholar Program was approved at the University of Texas System Board of Regents meeting in Austin on Wednesday. The program will offer a four-year degree program costing $10,000 in the areas of geology, chemistry, computer science, information systems and math. The reduced price in tuition would save future students an annual amount of almost $4,000 per year.
Paul Feit, department chair and mathematics program coordinator at UTPB, said he sees the program as an experiment. He said he expects the first year to primarily impact local students and possibly in future years could bring in students from other areas in the state.
“At my end it’s getting new faces in the classroom,” Feit said. “If it works, it will be a tremendous shot in the arm in many ways.”
The new program could go into effect in the fall, with criteria of maintaining full-time status and a minimum of a 3.0 grade point average. Students have to apply for the program through the university and will receive the discounted tuition cost only if accepted.
And while one plan approved a lower tuition cost for students, UTPB officials have also proposed a tuition increase, which could increase undergraduate tuition 2.57 percent annually for the 2012 school year and another 2.6 percent in the 2013 school year.
The reason UTPB is able to offer the program lies mainly in the recent addition of the university’s $54 million Science and Technology building.
Fannin said that since the completion of the math and science building in the fall, UTPB has a higher capacity for students. He said the campus has a capacity for 5,000 to 6,000 students but there are currently about 4,000 students and a lot of empty seats in classrooms, which could be filled without a major expense to UTPB.
“The opportunity has opened up. Why wait four or five years?” Fannin said.
And while the university does not have a set goal of added enrollment in mind, Fannin said, there could be an instance in the future where classroom capacity is met in certain programs and that would put a limit on the program’s availability.