Universities need budget relief

Amid further budget cuts, Florida universities and students may need to prepare for even worse consequences than previously thought. Gov. Jeb Bush must step in and help universities weather these cuts before Florida’s education suffers more than it is already expected to.

Each week seems to bring even more dire news of the state’s education budget cuts. Seemingly most hard hit will be the universities. According to the St. Petersburg Times, on Wednesday, Florida State University sent letters and e-mails to almost 5,000 students telling them their acceptance may be retracted if they do not register for freshman orientation by May 15.

This previously unheard of move is meant to force students into deciding where they will go to school early so the university can reduce its freshman class to lessen the impact of the budget cuts of $12 million the school expects.

However, this precedent may become common practice if FSU proves successful. The University of Florida provost said he understands what FSU is doing but said UF had no plans to implement a similar tactic. It is unknown what USF thinks about FSU’s plan, but it is also unknown how large USF’s cut will be.

USF is already bracing for harsh cuts. Last week, recently named interim provost Renu Khator said the College of Arts and Sciences expects a $4.3-million budget cut. With such a cut, teaching assistants, adjuncts and others will suffer first. Surely, students will feel the effects as classes taught by those lost adjuncts and TAs will be cut, as well.

Bush has a responsibility to help the universities survive these cuts without compromising the quality of education or revoking the admission of potential students. With more than 260,000 students attending the state’s universities, the estimated $84-million cut that will be shared by the schools must be buffered. Bush should cut senators’ pet projects and other useless items so that education does not suffer.