The budget cuts universities across the state are enduring have forced school administrations to make many unpopular decisions. Prospective students in Florida have to fear ever-increasing tuition in what was previously one of the nation’s most affordable state university systems.
Department heads and managers at USF have to deal with a hiring freeze when attempting to fill positions of need. Some programs, such as the national student exchange, have been cut completely because they were deemed expendable.
However, the budget cuts are also creating some positive changes at USF, especially in the realm of academics.
The USF Board of Trustees met Friday to discuss a gradual reduction in the number of students admitted to the University over the next three years because of the lack of funding. The plan will be finalized and proposed to the Board of Governors by Feb. 29.
Provost Ralph Wilcox told the Oracle that under the current economic climate, future enrollment may “drop even further.”
But by causing USF to decrease admissions and reduce transfers, these budget cuts are forcing USF administrators to make academic decisions that should be made even when funding is good. For instance, Wilcox said that incoming transfer students who have earned associate degrees and maintained a GPA of 3.0 or higher at their previous institutions will receive “top priority” under the new standards.
As USF seeks to become a member of the elite Association of American Universities (AAU), these increased standards will help the University cultivate a student body that is devoted to academic progress as opposed to scraping by with minimum requirements.
The University of California Davis, a public university and AAU member, reminds students on its Web site that they are applying for scholarships when they apply to transfer. While it does not list specific standards, it suggests sending a letter of recommendation and having a 3.25 GPA. That does not mean that someone without a letter or with a lower GPA will not be accepted to the school as a transfer, but it certainly shows the standards UC-Davis would like to abide by.
If nothing else, placing a premium on quality instead of quantity will alter the perception of USF from that of a “safety school” to that of an institution that has academics as its first priority.