The lack of concern for students exhibited by Florida’s Board of Governors last week is very disconcerting.
On Thursday, the BOG handed six proposals to Gov. Jeb Bush for approval, all of them including clauses that could spell tuitions hikes of up to 25 percent to students affected. Other negative effects the proposed changes are likely to have were equally overlooked. Student concerns expressed at the meeting were virtually disregarded.
One proposal is to implement a tuition billing system that would no longer be based on credit hours. Billed by “block tuition,” the universities would set a flat fee based on a number of credits that all students would have to pay for, whether they take more or less credits in actual class loads.
This system and other proposals is intended, according to the BOG, to stop students from “wasting time” by changing majors or taking classes that are not included in their major’s requirements.
Carolyn Roberts, chairwoman of the BOG, said this was necessary, as they “have to move students through the system” to keep up with the demand of college degrees.
Students expressed understandable fears that not everyone will be able to pay the proposed flat fees. If a student was working to pay for tuition and living costs, for example, that student, while not able to take advantage of the classes he paid for due to time constraints, would still be stuck with the higher costs.
Florida State University graduate student and member of the BOG, Jarrett Eady, summed up the unfair practice by saying, “If we asked our residents to pay utility bills on a flat rate, not by what you use, you’d have massive insurrection in the streets.” What would be unfair for a utility bill would also be unfair for tuition.
Aside from the obvious financial strains such a system would put on many students, it also accelerates the trend of public universities herding students through the system in order to graduate them as fast as possible. What the financial architects of our education system are forgetting though, is that students should have the opportunity to branch out into other disciplines or even change majors entirely if they so chose. A well-rounded education can only be a benefit to a student.
In this case, “herding” has nothing to do with USF’s school spirit. It is only going to hurt the university.