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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A $1 billion operating budget for the University of Tennessee and fee increases of 5 to 8 percent for most students were approved Wednesday by two UT Board of Trustees committees.

The full board will consider the 1998-99 budget and fee recommendations Thursday. Preliminary approval came during a joint meeting of the board’s finance and executive committees.

In addition to the operating budget, UT has budgets next year for restricted funds of $215.7 million and capital outlay and maintenance funds of $68 million.

UT Executive Vice President Emerson H. Fly said the fee increases would generate approximately $8 million in additional revenue.

The added dollars will help meet increased operating and scholarship costs and bring faculty salaries closer in line with other comparable universities, Fly said.

“Even after the increases, we still will be regarded as a university that offers quality education at a very competitive price,” Fly said.

With board approval, fees would rise this fall by 5 percent for in-state students at UT-Chattanooga and UT-Martin and 8 percent for in-state students at UT-Knoxville.

Other fee increases: law, 8 percent; medicine, 5 percent; dentistry, 5 percent; pharmacy, 10 percent; graduate nursing, 12 percent; and veterinary medicine, 5 percent.

At UT-Chattanooga, a 5 percent increase would raise total undergraduate fees to $1,232 per semester. At UT-Martin the cost would be $1,171. An 8 percent increase at UT-Knoxville would raise fees to $1,372.

UT President Joe Johnson said the higher fees at UT-Knoxville continue an effort started last year that recognizes the special needs of one of the nation’s major research universities.

“Our comparisons of UT-Knoxville with its peer institutions show that student fees are substantially below the average,” Johnson said.

Based on a report of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, fees at UT-Knoxville are currently $588 below the average annual fees of its 10 peer institutions.

Except for the University of Oklahoma, all of UT-Knoxville’s peer institutions are public universities in the South.

Peer averages are important as a point of comparison, but do not alone justify fee increases, Johnson said.

“We raise fees reluctantly,” Johnson said. “We raise fees only to meet the aspirations of our faculty, students, parents and employers.”

Contact: Eli Fly (423-974-2243) Joe Johnson (423-974-2141)