A top Florida educator told USF students Tuesday that degrees from Florida universities could decrease in value if budget cuts continue to stifle faculty hiring and reduce funding for academic programs.
A roomful of Honors College students and various representatives from Student Government had the opportunity to discuss financial matters pertaining to USF with Mark Rosenberg, the chancellor of the State University System.
Among the issues Rosenberg discussed were the repercussions of the budget cuts and the responsibility of students to seek information.
“I have financial responsibility for your education,” Rosenberg said. “My principal focus is to ensure you get a quality education.”
Rosenberg would like to see reduced class sizes, improved communication with faculty, and more students involved in research and study abroad programs. He also stressed the importance of a “world-class” education.
“In each of your fields, the amount of information is doubling every five years. By the time you graduate, it will have increased 80 to 100 percent,” Rosenberg said.
He believes, however, that these goals will become considerably harder to achieve with the budget cuts enacted by the state. At the rate universities are going, students will not be able to succeed in a competitive job market.
“We need to make sure you’re absolutely ready when you graduate, for the rapid change,” he said.
He says the University needs to hire 350 new faculty members, as well as replace the 50 who leave each year. At $100,000 per faculty member, the total would be $35 million.
“That is a little more than what we receive (from the state),” Provost Ralph Wilcox said.
Rosenberg said tuition would have to be raised 83 percent to hire those additional faculty members.
“The end result is our tuition is very low and our state is putting in less. We have chosen to have low tuition and there is no state support where it should be,” he said. “The bottom line is we’ve got to learn how to do more with less.”
Another financial dilemma discussed was that of the Bright Futures scholarship program.
Rosenberg said there is a lot of money being put into Bright Futures and it is not possible to raise tuition without increasing the pool of money that goes into the program. He believes that parents are being selfish when they react negatively to the prospect of getting less money from Bright Futures, while students are just being apathetic.
“Students are largely apathetic. You’re not articulating what your concerns are. The parents are a selfish generation. At least half the students don’t need Bright Futures,” he said.
Without the proper funding, higher education is bound to deteriorate, he said.
Also, as the University drops in the ranks, as FSU and UF have recently, degrees from USF lose value.
After Rosenberg discussed these issues, he invited students to voice their concerns.
Junior Mimi Ghosh said she feels the administration is not doing a good job of relaying information to students and that it does not tell the students where to look for this information or what questions to ask if they do.
“We are wholly kept in the dark at this University. We’re not looking at what really affects our lives. Communication is restricted,” she said.