‘Block tuition’ spells problems for students, USF

Students are already hard pressed to come up with the ever-increasing funds needed to finance tuition. Between classes and jobs, it is becoming harder every year to balance educational needs with the means to earn the needed money. This task may soon become even more complicated, as the Board of Governors is likely to introduce a “block tuition” proposal this Thursday.

The proposed plan would have students paying for tuition in preset hourly blocks whether or not the student was actually taking more or less than what he or she was paying for.

While the proposed details of how the plan should be implemented vary from university to university, the implications for students remain the same: They can either attempt to make as much use of the money they spend by taking more classes, or accept the fact that they are paying for more credits than they are actually taking.

This can hardly be a good thing. While intended to shorten the amount of years students take to graduate, the policy also impedes a student’s ability to attain a balanced education. Herding as many students through the state education system as possible would essentially turn the system into a diploma mill. Such an emphasis on quantity would almost certainly come at the expense of quality.

For universities like USF, the proposed plans also create enormous problems. USF’s Board of Trustees indicated that USF has a large contingency of “non-traditional” students who commute to class or exclusively take night classes. The university could lose students that are incapable or unwilling to take more credits just because the BOG decided they should.

For such students, the plan would likely mean they would either opt out of taking classes altogether, or would take even longer to graduate through the use of a loophole in the system. As some plans call for a threshold of 11 credits, a student could take classes “a la carte” by paying for each class individually rather than per flat fee. This would inflate the years spent in college dramatically, precisely the problem the BOG is attempting to fix.

Since the Florida university system is constantly under strain from budget cuts, it is unconscionable for the BOG to hand down such a seemingly shortsighted decision, especially since the long-term effects remain more than sketchy.