The battle over how far Florida colleges should be allowed to go in offering four-year degrees, once largely the responsibility of state universities, has spawned a new effort to more strictly limit those opportunities.
The newest measure is sponsored by Sen. Joe Negron, a Stuart Republican who could become Senate president after the 2016 elections and has worked before to limit college offerings that he says overlap with what four-year universities already provide.
“One of my goals over the next several years is to make our good universities great,” Negron said. “And you can’t find the funding to do that when you have unnecessary duplication of effort.”
Under Negron’s proposal, which was attached to an existing measure on higher education (SB 1252), colleges would have to give notice a year before they expect to start offering new four-year degrees, up from 60 days in the current law. It would cap at 5 percent the share of a college’s enrollment that could be made up of students pursuing baccalaureate degrees.
And in a shot to the marketing of the colleges — which used to be called “community colleges” — the institutions would no longer be allowed to use “state” in their names. Sixteen colleges would have their names changed to comply with that rule, in addition to Florida Gateway College being renamed Lake City College.
Among the colleges affected: Daytona State, whose Palm Coast campus last summer marked the opening of a $7.6 million expansion. It did so on the 35th anniversary of the college’s presence in Palm Coast. Daytona State College, which has an enrollment of between 16,000 and 17,000, was once known as Daytona Beach Community College. The college changed its name in 2008, at a time when the Legislature was encouraging community colleges to explore four-year degrees, which were in high demand.
The 2008 bill that made the change possible had explicitly stated that colleges “may change the institution name and use the designation state college.” The Legislature had opened the way for community colleges to offer four-year degrees in 1999. The current proposal is a reversal, to a degree.
Negron said that part of the proposal would refocus the colleges on their regional missions. Each state college has an area of the state which it is supposed to serve spelled out in state law.
“As far as the use of the term ‘state,’ it’s a misleading, inaccurate term,” he said. “When you say ‘Florida State College,’ that college does not serve all of Florida, it does not serve all the state.”
There has long been tension between colleges, which are overseen by the State Board of Education, and universities, which are managed by the Florida Board of Governors, about whether the Board of Education is too quick to grant four-year degrees to its institutions.
Last year, when he chaired the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, Negron threatened to slash $3.5 million from state colleges and give it to universities to try to force a change. Senators also considered taking away the Board of Education’s authority over four-year degrees.
Eventually, lawmakers settled on a moratorium on new four-year programs at state colleges.
Negron’s new proposal would do away with that moratorium, as would a House bill (HB 7127) approved Tuesday by the House Education Appropriations Subcommittee. However, the House measure doesn’t have Negron’s further language about the colleges and four-year degrees.
A spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Education said through email that officials there “prefer to not comment on proposed legislation since it may change.”
Jim Henningsen, president of the College of Central Florida, speaking to a Senate committee last week on behalf of college presidents, said colleges were focused on the narrow goal of the original authority for them to offer four-year programs.
“Our goal in our system is to support exactly as you stated, that regional approach to economic development, workforce training in those areas. … There are some (situations) where universities as well as the colleges work together and find a baccalaureate solution that was needed for that specific region,” he said.
But there have been some concerns raised about the enrollment cap, which Negron has conceded might need to be modified. St. Petersburg College, which was one of the earliest schools to offer four-year degrees, now has about 12 percent of its students enrolled in those programs, according to senators.
Negron said he would be open to language capping that school’s four-year enrollment at 15 percent, along with other levels for colleges that already have more than 5 percent of their students pursuing those degrees. Institutions with less than 5 percent of their students in those programs might still face the lower cap.
Sen. David Simmons, R-Altamonte Springs, said he doesn’t want the proposal to come across as adversarial, highlighting especially the impact of striking “state” from the names of the colleges.
“That means that the students are the ones that end up bearing the brunt of this,” he said.
But Negron said he doesn’t believe the institutions would lose any prestige under his proposal, which would change the name of the system to the Florida Community College System but would give the schools themselves names without that term, like Daytona College.
“To me, let’s agree on the place of the community colleges in our overall educational system,” he said.
–FlaglerLive and News Service of Florida
Another plot by politicians to force students into higher tuition universities and incur more student debt instead of staying local and earning a bachelor degree.
As a current high school senior i agree with you. Its wrong and should not be able to go through!!! Planning to get my degree in teaching at Daytona State College here in Palm Coast, not paying the fees at big universities.
Agreed 100%. I personally am pursuing a four-year degree in Nursing, one of DSC’s most prized programs, this upcoming fall, and wish to transfer halfway through the degree to finish up at UCF before heading to their medical school. However, this cut could throw a huge wrench in plans involving four-year programs and transference to other schools across the state.
The arguments presented don’t even make sense. This is a ploy to raise the position of high-cost education for economic benefit, not student benefit.
I was hoping this article was an April Fool’s.
Nancy N. says
Actually Freddy more like more effort by the GOP elite to continue to force a wedge in the divide between the classes by making a four year college education more and more out of reach. Most students getting four year degrees at the local colleges aren’t going there because they had FSU or UF as an option and decided Daytona State College was better. They are going to a school like Daytona State because it is all that they can manage financially.
I bet it has a whole lot more to do with the taxpayer funded institutions of higher learning, bloated with massive amounts of government money propping up huge salaries for administrators trying to protect their turf than Republicans trying to maintain a caste system here in Florida. These universities are more concerned with keeping the money flowing to them than providing an education at the lowest possible cost.
Samantha Wilson says
I agree with Nancy. Limiting four year degrees to universities will only hurt poor people who can’t afford to move to a town where a university is located. Single mothers and young families often cannot afford to move away from their family support systems in their hometowns in order to attend a university. Also, people who already have a career, and want to improve their skills or obtain new ones, can’t just quit their job and lose their income source and move 3 hours away to attend a university.
Nalla C. says
What happens to those who are currently enrolled in a four year program at a “State College” and they haven’t completed the program before this nonsense kicks in?
I’m kind of mixed on this–I’ll bet an unintended consequence would be Daytona State College having to knock off their 8-week class motif for the Bachelor of Applied Science. If I wanted to buy a degree, I’d find a diploma mill in India that would probably cost me way less than this BAS will…
These guys are re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. There are SO many online courses available, most of them are free (including from MIT, Harvard, and many others) that the only reason to attend a physical college is for the piece of paper – and online colleges are working on accreditation procedures. The internet has made the whole idea of going someplace to learn intellectual skills (math, English, philosophy) utterly obsolete. You still need to go someplace to learn hands-on skills (welding, A/C repair, be a pilot), but colleges and universities don’t usually address these things, and look down on them as the domain of “trade schools”. The ivory towers are about to be demolished, and will be replaced by fast internet connections.
Good luck doing chemistry and biology lab in your basement. Good luck understanding what the experiments mean without learning advanced math. Good luck discussing your results critically without basic English and philosophy.
Its unfortunate that a 2 year degree doesn’t mean a thing in 2015 i worked in the health care field at a 1500 bed hospital in fla (in 2000) and now you have to have a 4 year degree to be employed for that type of job times have really changed.
We reside and in RED state because you all vote that way right? Then endure the fall outs of what you pick!
The Tea Bagging / Republican / Religious Right want to do everything possible to discourage education, keep people poor and dumb is one of the major objectives of their legislative agenda. Take away health care, eliminate minimum wages, pensions and you pretty much have the ALEC and “Kochsucker” Plan for America. Keep voting the American Terrorists into office and before long America will become just another third world country.
Actually, it’s Obama and the Democrats that are allowing the third world countries to stream across our borders by enticing them with better benefits than those offered our veterans. He offers refugees from North Africa welfare upon their arrival and they have no skills whatsoever, so let’s try and keep the conversation in line with the facts, shall we?
Ted Cruz's Proctologist says
Daytona College? Don’t think so. A few years back right before it became DSC, Daytona Beach Community College rebranded itself as Daytona Beach College, then Daytona College, and then finally DSC. Daytona College was already taken by a for-profit up in north daytona and they didn’t even bother to check. Maybe a name like the Mike Curb college of science and hospitality or hosseini university?
This is easy:
“The Socialist / Democrat / Atheist Left want to do everything possible to discourage education, keep people poor and dumb, with their decades of failed social entitlement programs, is one of the major objectives of their legislative agenda. Give away health care on the backs of taxPAYERS, raise minimum wages to increase prices for consumers, great taxpayer provided government pensions, with pplans and attempts to tax privately held pensions and retirement plans and you pretty much have the socialist and “Soros-sucker” Plan for America. Keep voting the American Terrorists into office and before long America, with their $18+ trillion in debt, will become just another third world country.”
This is atrocious and only set to serve the elite who are protecting their interests as usual. DSC is a very good college for the money and has a top-rated online bachelor degree program. This is just the elite wanting to protect their expensive degrees from low-cost alternatives. Hugely short-sighted as competition is good for all.
Isn’t funding tied to attendance? Is the attendance for Daytona State trending up or down?
Sherry E says
It would be very helpful if those commenting would please attach links or foot notes to their often highly charged claims. . . so that the source and actual “facts” can be verified.
This is completely shameful. Leave it alone. One way you improve the general education of the masses (and the world) is to make it more easily accessible. This has the opposite affect. If major universities are unable to keep costs down and distribute their product (high quality education) to the masses, then too bad! It still boils down to supply and demand. Shame! Deny people further of their right to pursue happiness by bettering themselves. Someone please vote this guy of the planet and audit his accounts to see which universities are lining his pockets the most.