WUFT News

Four-Year Degree Limitation Proposed By State Senator Sparks Debate

By on April 6th, 2015

Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, is seeking a legal limit on the number of four-year degree programs offered at community colleges in Florida.

After a discussion on the Florida College System (FCS) baccalaureate degrees on March 10, Negron proposed the idea of a limit to the Florida Senate’s Higher Education Committee.

“I don’t think people expected us to have as many baccalaureate programs as we do now,” Negron told the committee.

Valencia College President Sandy Shugart attended the hearing. Shugart thought if regulations were to be implemented, emphasis should be placed on the number of students enrolled in each degree program, not the number of programs.

Ed Bonahue, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Santa Fe College, said they have not launched any bachelor’s program without first seeking the support of the University of Florida.

“Our goal from the outset has been to avoid program duplication and to make our programs complementary, not competitive,” Bonahue said.

Statewide, there has been an increase in the number of students enrolled at community colleges, which are also referred to as state colleges.

According to the Florida Department of Education, for 2013-14, there were 34,528 students enrolled in FCS baccalaureate programs. This is a 13-percent increase from the 2012-13 year, when 30,515 students were enrolled.

Santa Fe’s bachelor’s degrees directly correspond to the economic development of the school’s region, Bonahue said. He added that state colleges are only authorized to offer degrees in fields where the workforce data shows a need for more professionals.

“Whether its front-line technicians or nurses in hospitals who need a bachelor’s degree to move up, our bachelor’s programs typically help our students take the next steps in their careers,” Bonahue said.

Joe Follick, communications director for the Florida College System at the Florida Department of Education, said the most popular bachelor’s degrees at community colleges statewide are nursing, business administration and supervision and management.

Bonahue said a typical student enrolled in the Florida College System is older and enrolled on a part-time basis, compared to the traditionally younger, full-time university student.

UF student Adam Snyder, 21, said some students choose to go to Santa Fe because it’s a feeder school to UF. Prior to attending UF, Snyder received his associate’s degree from Santa Fe.

“I met students during my time at Santa Fe who had money problems, so going to Santa Fe was a lot easier on their financial hardships,” Snyder said.

According to the Florida College System, the average in-state tuition and fees for 30 credits from a public university in 2014 was $6,155, compared to a four-year baccalaureate program at a state college, where the average tuition and fees are $3,585.

According to Bonahue, this is another draw to the community college system in Florida.

Currently there are 175 baccalaureate programs offered through the community college system statewide. Santa Fe College has seven baccalaureate degree programs, Follick said.

Although baccalaureate programs have been generally increasing each year, just under four percent of Santa Fe’s total enrollment is in upper-division courses. It still remains a small portion of their overall programming.

“I think possibly we should look at a cap … since we agree that baccalaureate degrees are a small part of the mission of community state colleges,” Negron said 

Bonahue said he views the mission of community colleges in a different light. He said at the core of the state college system is a philosophy of providing higher education opportunities for everyone.

“In a way, baccalaureate programs at Santa Fe, and elsewhere in the college system, are a natural and sensible extension of that core mission of access,” he said. “The reality is that there are more students—often non-traditional and working students—than our excellent university system can accommodate.”


This entry was posted in Education and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
 

More Stories in Education

Tony Malo reviews "Beyond Thought," one of his students' films in his classroom on May 21. His class has just finished their end-of-the-year projects.

Gainesville High Teacher Cultivates Student Creativity

Gainesville High School teacher Tony Malo uses unique teaching and disciplinary methods to prepare students for the workforce and empower them to be self-motivated while learning to collaborate in groups. He believes his experiential learning methods are more effective than teaching for standardized tests.


The computers in the media center at A.L. Mebane Middle School in Alachua are being equipped with the Fast ForWord learning program. The computer-based program is a part of Superintendent Owen Roberts' language development initiative.

Dollar General Awards Three Local Schools $135,000 For Fast ForWord

On Wednesday, Alachua Elementary School, W.W. Irby Elementary School and A.L. Mebane Middle School were awarded $135,000 by Dollar General to fund Fast ForWord, a program designed to improve language and reading competency in students. This is part of a five-year language development initiative to implement the program in all elementary schools in Alachua County.


CFX8zb6WAAAbh3T

Alachua County Schools Receive $1.2 Million

Gov. Rick Scott awarded a $1,277,312 check to 20 Alachua County schools Tuesday at Stephen Foster Elementary School. The money is part of the Florida School Recognition Program which is giving $124 million to schools statewide.


A file photograph showing textbooks and empty student desks inside an Atlanta, Georgia school.

Community Leaders Sign Education Compact

Community, business, government and education leaders signed a compact aiming to improve educational outcomes and opportunities for students in Alachua County through collaborative efforts. The compact was signed on Monday by 21 people.


Debbie Powell consoles her grandchildren in wake of the decision.

Alachua County School Board Passes Rezoning Plan That Will Dissolve Waldo Community School

The Alachua County School Board voted unanimously Tuesday night to consolidate Waldo Community School with Shell Elementary School. The decision marks the end of a hard fought battle for Waldo to keep its school.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Underwriting Payments