Scott fails state university system
Published: Sunday, May 13, 2012
Updated: Monday, May 14, 2012 09:05
Governor Rick Scott showed some small initiative on improving the plight of Florida’s university system by vetoing HB 7129 last month, a bill that would have allowed unlimited tuition hikes for universities. However, that glimmer of hope for the future of Florida colleges has dwindled yet again. Scott’s plans for a new university, Florida Polytechnic, are hardly conceivable considering the $1.3 billion cut the state budget suffered last year for university funding, as reported by Forbes. Moreover, the state’s university system simply does not need it.
Two of Florida’s top institutions, Florida State University and the University of Florida, would have benefitted from HB 7129, however the schools themselves have yet to demonstrate alternative means of revenue income and ways their budget can be cut. Instead, UF has announced it will be closing its entire computer science program, a flagship department for the university.
Scott’s proposal of Florida Polytechnic is inane when considering the burden placed upon UF’s computer science program due to monetary restrictions. UF’s program was well established, among the top 50 in the nation. The University of South Florida’s polytechnic school also provided several degree options for students in the field, which just saw its final graduating class walk last week. These programs were providing the exact education and opportunity for Florida students that Scott claims students will find at Florida Polytechnic. What was wrong with the programs we had? As Forbes writer David DiSalvo noted, “That’s like burning down someone’s house, replacing it with the wooden frame of a house and calling it progress.” UCF is not immune to these growing needs and costs, and although Florida Polytechnic will be receiving a hefty sum from donations, $27 billion will be supplemented by state funds, according to the Tampa Bay Times. This chunk of change could go to schools already struggling, including UCF. With a student enrollment pushing 59,000 students for fall semester, UCF’s population stands as the largest in the state. According to WESH, UCF is facing a budget cut to the tune of $52.6 million, a tough number to face with growing enrollment rates and a glum economic forecast for the state.
Scott’s plans to siphon money from the budget and allocate it to a new university with substantial obstacles aren’t a reassuring prospect for the state’s university system.
This should be a source of contention for all UCF students who have seen firsthand the preliminary consequences of budget cuts such as increases in tuition rates and fewer class options. UCF will soon have to answer to the demands of these budget cuts, which could mean the loss of more classes and programs.
In the end, the numbers just don’t add up. There is simply no room in Florida’s education budget for another school, and the risks outweigh the benefits. Besides funds, accreditation must also be considered, which is anticipated to take up to three years. Florida Polytechnic’s first class will have to graduate from a non-accredited school, a gamble for students in this job market. Scott needs to reevaluate who really stands to benefit from this move.