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Higher Ed Funding Proposals Fizzle in FL, OH

May 02, 2012

Proposals introduced in Florida and Ohio would have changed the funding model for universities that meet certain benchmarks to elevate their standing for research and innovation. Both proposals ultimately were rejected, however. In Ohio, the state's plan for enterprise universities is on hold, and in Florida Gov. Rick Scott recently vetoed a bill to establish preeminent universities.

With broad support in both chambers, The Florida Legislature passed HB 7129, the Academic and Research Excellence and National Preeminence Act. The measure would have allowed the University of Florida and Florida State University to set tuition at differentiated and market rates with the ability to set tuition rates higher for different types of programs. The goal was to elevate the university system's global standing for research and innovation.

Universities would have to meet 11 of 14 academic and research standards to qualify for the standing. University presidents said they would raise tuition closer to the national average and use the additional funds to hire more faculty and enhance programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), reports the Tampa Bay Times. Gov. Scott, who said he is against tuition increases, vetoed the bill last week. The governor also called on higher education leaders seeking a tuition hike to first demonstrate ways they are saving money and to show that degree programs are tied to job growth, according to the article.

A plan introduced in Ohio last year to create enterprise universities is on hold because lawmakers and college leaders could not reach an agreement, reports The Columbus Disptach. Under the plan, universities would operate more like corporations by removing several state regulations in return for taking a smaller share of state funding and meeting certain benchmarks such as graduating students sooner and increasing the percentage of degrees awarded in STEM fields (see the Aug. 17, 2011 issue of the Digest). The two-part plan required legislative approval to reduce mandates and regulations and allow universities to differentiate the cost of tuition. Gov. John Kasich decided not to include the plan in the mid-biennial review, the article states.

Florida, Ohiohigher ed