BEIRUT: Members of the administration at the American University of Beirut are closely examining alternative budgets for next year, but any plan “must realistically include a tuition increase,” according to a statement released by AUB President Peter Dorman Wednesday.
The news will further frustrate students who have been campaigning for weeks to stop a proposed rise in tuition fees.
“A joint commission of faculty and staff has worked diligently on alternative budget suggestions and submitted to me a series of recommendations that I intend to take into full consideration,” Dorman’s statement said, adding that “the size of any increase is yet to be determined.”
Provost Ahmad Dallal echoed the president. “We will work as hard as we can to minimize the tuition increase. This is a primary objective for all of us,” he told The Daily Star Wednesday.
The Board of Trustees, which will finalize next year’s budget in May, discussed the financial pressures on students at last week’s board meetings, Dallal said. “The board is sensitive to the requests of the students,” he added.
Still, members of the University Student Faculty Committee said they doubted the administration’s conclusion that tuition must increase for AUB to operate satisfactorily next year.
“We have seen the financial documents,” said USFC member and student Raed Kontar. “I think that stopping the increase is possible ... [but] they’re not doing it.”
He expressed frustration at the fact that members of the student government had not been granted access to the staff and faculty’s alternative budget recommendations.
“As USFC we don’t know what the teachers recommended,” he told The Daily Star.
“We demand that they tell us what they are doing.”
Kontar said that he doubted students would support even a small fee increase, and speculated that some student activists would escalate protest activities. “I think they will take things to a higher level,” he told The Daily Star.
Youssef Sandakli, also a USFC member, said: “If the students do not get their demands, I think they’re going to try any measure that is under the university bylaws.”
Such measures could include continued protests or an open strike, Sandakli told The Daily Star.
An online petition launched by students, which calls for a halt to the tuition increase, has so far received more than 950 signatures.