Press Conference on the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Higher Education

Friday, 16 Nov 2012, Noon to 1:15 pm at Turlington Plaza, UF Campus

UF Graduate Assistants United and Gainesville Area Students for a Democratic Society will hold a joint press conference to discuss the finalized recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Task Force (BRTF) to reform higher education in Florida, which will be released on November 15th. They have invited UFF-UF to participate to provide a faculty point of view. Although the recommendations are not yet finalized, the preliminary drafts indicate drastic changes to the University of Florida’s educational and institutional autonomy.

According to the BRTF’s Working Draft 4.0, the Board of Governors (BOG) would centralize more control over most aspects of the state university system. They (not the state legislature) would be in charge of allocating resources based on the university’s ability to meet a performance metric that would partially be set by them. These metrics include: increasing the number of bachelor’s degrees in strategic areas of emphasis, percent of graduates employed or continuing studies upon graduation, percentage of graduates with high paying jobs, and institutional efficiencies that lower the cost to graduation. The BOG would also have more direct control over state universities presidential appointments.

The BRTF’s draft also indicates a recommendation of differential tuition for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) degrees. Under their proposal degrees in high demand fields would cost less than other degrees. This would dichotomize higher education and lead to a diminished university experience. Education experts are also against this, as it would not address the root causes of the perceived
shortage in STEM degrees.

José R. Soto, Graduated Assistants United Co-President, 520-664-8309
Conor Munro, Students for a Democratic Society Lead Organizer, 850-566-9996