Online Courses at State Universities

Questioner: Peter Magyari

Posted to: Janet Owen, Vice President, Governmental Affairs

“There’s been some chatter about the fact that the online (inaudible), but, the chatter that the State University System is looking at coordinating online courses, so there’s not going to be any (inaudible) offered at each of the state universities. And so, my first question is: Is there any basis to that chatter? And my second question is: With the very public roll-out this past week of the University of Florida’s five full-time online bachelor’s degree programs, with an announcement that next year that will expand up to 39 programs, how does that affect that chatter about having one university direct online learning for the State University System?”


Written response from Janet Owen, Vice President, Governmental Affairs:

“The UF Online Program and the current Board of Governors’ Task Force on Postsecondary Online Education in Florida are two very separate, but concurrent initiatives.

UF Online resulted from a request by the Speaker of the House of Representatives that the State University System undertakes a cost-benefit analysis of establishing a high quality accredited online university in Florida. As a result, UF received funding in the 2013 legislative session to offer high-quality, fully online bachelor degree programs at no more than 75% of the tuition rate specified for resident, Florida students.

In another, separate initiative, the Board of Governor’s Strategic Planning Committee recommended that the full Board: “Direct the Chancellor to form a systemwide work group that would report back to the Strategic Planning Committee and continue to work with our colleges and universities and the other delivery systems to determine ways in which services and online degree programs, including market-based job analyses, can be better coordinated to ensure State and student needs are being met in a cost-efficient and effective manner.” The membership of this Task Force is broad and includes a university trustee, and administrators and faculty representing academic affairs, student affairs, enrollment services, chief information and technology officers, and representatives from state colleges, Florida Virtual Campus, and the state’s Department of Economic Opportunity (full Task Force membership list is attached).

The next scheduled event is for the Task Force Committee Chairs to review a draft report. This will be accomplished by conference call on Wednesday, October 23rd from 2:00 – 3:30 p.m. The Conference Call Number is 1-213-342-3000; the participant Caode is 754064. You can call in to listen, as these are noticed, public meetings.

The goal of the Task Force is to identify how all of the institutions can improve their online offerings, and perhaps gain efficiencies through shared best practices and shared services. There is no plan to eliminate or curtail an institution’s ability to offer online programs, or to have the One University Direct Online Learning for the State University System.”


Additional Responses from Dr. Kathy Robinson:

“I was just going to say that, at the Board of Governors, of course they had several conferences about this very issue; and the idea of a coordinated program, with all the universities contributing, is not flying. The idea of people being encouraged to do their best (inaudible) to develop what they want to within their university seems to be the dominant theme right now. There are a lot of documents, if you are interested in reading them, on the interim board web site about those reports and analyses. But the idea of a central online degree that all of us contribute to (inaudible) is, I wouldn’t say dead in the water, but it’s in pretty bad shape. (Inaudible)”

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