Cheap degree programs

The Gainesville (Fla.) Sun: Not surprisingly, Gov. Rick Scott’s challenge to state colleges to create four-year degree programs that would only cost $10,000 has elicited some skepticism.

Roberto Martinez, vice chairman of the state Board of Education, said “It will be perceived as a gimmick pretending to be a policy used as a sound bite.” And a Tampa Bay Times editorial echoes, “Gimmicks are no way to improve Florida’s higher education system.”

But we are inclined to give Scott the benefit of a doubt. There’s nothing wrong with asking colleges to become more entrepreneurial. And we’re glad that Santa Fe College, for one, has accepted the challenge with plans to offer a new public safety BA degree. Santa Fe should be in the business of providing opportunity to those who can least afford it.

The skepticism arises because Scott has done nothing but preside over deep cuts in higher education budgets, even as he has suppressed tuition hikes. If it continues, that’s a prescription for mediocrity, no matter how often colleges, and universities, are challenged to do more with less.

We hope that the coming year will see a reversal in the steady slashing of college and university budgets.

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