With state funding for colleges and universities tied to the number of degrees each gives, schools across the country are coming up with new ways to generate more diplomas to hand out each year.
Indiana's Kent State University is addressing the issue by offering two-year associate degrees, according to an article by Collin Binkley of the Columbus Dispatch. After 60 hours, a student would qualify for this type of degree, a "fall-back" for those students who quit after two years. Most observers agree that this seems like a straight path to getting extra funding from the state.
Bruce E. Johnson, president of the Inter-University Council of Ohio, predicts that other schools will pursue similar plans as the state ties more money to diplomas. State money linked to degree completion will increase by $71 million next year for four-year public schools, to almost $700 million, which is one-half of all money the state allots to help those schools operate.
Community colleges, seeing this as an affront to their special niche, have said they are considering a new degree which has not been introduced in Ohio yet, the applied baccalaureate. Other states in areas where four-year degrees are not offered use this type of degree.
In Tallahassee,Florida, community colleges are discussing adding four-year programs to their offerings, according to a story by Troy Kinsey of Bay News 9. Lawmakers, however, are not behind this change. Some students whose high schools did not include one or more of the necessary classes that are required courses for enrollment in most four-year schools are worried about this change. Students such as Taylor Shaw, who is a student at a Florida community college.
"I didn't take foreign languages in high school, so I had to use a community college to get those to be able to go to a four-year program, but if this becomes a four-year program, then what do the people do who aren't prepared out of high school?" Shaw said.
Not only that, but many students cannot afford a four-year college or university, or are not yet in a position to attend a four-year school. Governor Rick Scott is strongly behind making four-year colleges available to families who need the tuition break. Community colleges that want to remain two-year institutions may run dead end.
Gordon Gee, past president of several American universities, believes in the importance of higher education. According to an article in the Lawrence World-Journal, Gee said universities and colleges allow for innovation, creativity, debate, economic improvement, and solutions to the ever-increasing national problems we all face.