On Wednesday, USF President Judy Genshaft announced the completion of the long-awaited proposal on how the University plans to accommodate a potential 15 percent budget cut over the next two years.
Included in the proposal are warnings of increased class sizes, reduced course and section offerings as well as trimmed advising and service activities, which may cause delays for students.
Despite these plans, Genshaft maintained that USF will “strengthen the institution’s commitment to student learning, to ensure that those students currently enrolled can progress toward timely graduation.”
While noble, Genshaft’s conviction is a complete contradiction of the stated plan.
It is almost comical to claim to ensure enhanced student learning and timely graduation while limiting course options, augmenting class sizes and making the already oft-inefficient advising process even less efficient – all of which inextricably hurt students’ academic progress.
The class size growth and limited course availability are especially problematic when coupled with delayed advising. If students’ schedule options are limited, the need for knowledgeable advisers to help them along the way to graduation increases – a demand the University warns it will not be able to handle effectively.
USF already has a hard time churning out graduates within six years – less than 50 percent achieve this goal – yet administrators somehow expect to improve graduation rates while setting more hurdles for students.
The goals outlined in the proposal and those communicated by Genshaft simply cannot be achieved under such conditions.
In reality, though, the solution is not within Genshaft’s or any USF administrator’s reach.
Although painful for many to hear – much less admit – tuition must be raised. Florida has the lowest tuition in the nation, and if its universities are going to make it through this economic morass with any kind of quality intact, the state legislature must have the guts to make students pay more.
While nobody wants to dig deeper into their pockets to afford school, students all over the state have attested that they are willing to do so if that is what it takes to maintain academic programs and activities and high-quality education.
Though the call for a long-term solution to the state’s higher education woes has been made by Florida students and university administrators alike, it is being ignored by the legislature. Students must decide if they are willing to sacrifice the quality of their education in order to save a few bucks. If not, they should articulate their desires to those who ultimately control the quality of education – and the value of degrees – granted from Florida institutions.