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Board makes next step toward UF block tuition

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Posted: Friday, November 5, 2010 12:02 am | Updated: 12:33 am, Fri Nov 5, 2010.

The Board of Governors approved a regulation change Thursday that will allow Florida’s public universities to submit proposals to institute block tuition — something UF administrators hope to do over the next few months.

With block tuition, the university would charge a flat rate for full-time students, regardless of the number of credits taken.

For example, under one version of the system, the rate could be set at the cost of 15 credit hours, and students would be charged that rate if they take anywhere between 12 and 18 credit hours.

At the second and final day of meetings in Emerson Alumni Hall, the board opened up a procedural path for state universities to make a move to block tuition through a series of proposals and approvals by higher governing bodies.

UF is the only university in the state that has expressed a desire to pursue block tuition.

UF Provost Joe Glover said he will present different block tuition models to UF President Bernie Machen, who will direct the drafting of a precise proposal.

The final proposal will go before UF’s Board of Trustees during their December meeting.

If approved, the proposal would then be submitted to the Board of Governors in January.

The final step for the proposal would be at a special budget committee meeting in February, where, if approved, UF would be put on a track to implement block tuition by the fall.

Budget and Finance Committee Chairman Tico Perez said he was surprised at the attention the issue has received, citing the fact that the board was only approving a regulation change and not approving block tuition at any university.

Machen said the administration has been informally explaining the block tuition concept to the Board of Trustees.

He said there is initial support from the trustees, but he does not know if the board would approve the measure.

“It would depend on the case we make,” he said.

Students for a Democratic Society had planned to present a list of demands to the board on Thursday but left after learning there was no public comment allowed during the meeting.

Dave Schneider, leader of the group, said he sees a move toward block tuition as a means to move students through the system faster — a system he feels is flawed.

“The point of this is to turn the universities in the system into degree mills,” he said.

Student Body President Ashton Charles, who was present for the meeting and holds a seat on the Board of Trustees, said Student Government cannot take an official stance on a proposal that doesn’t yet exist.

“There are too many things that are unknown to actually speak out about it now,” she said.

Another regulation change discussed Thursday allows universities to propose the implementation of market-rate tuition for certain continuing education courses and distance education graduate-level online courses.

The change would have to be approved at the board’s next meeting.

According to the meeting materials, the market-rate plan would not affect certain education, health professions and security and emergency services programs. Universities will also be able submit an exemption request for other programs.

Welcome to the discussion.