Online University Study
The 2012 Legislature provided funds to the Board of Governors to obtain the services of a consulting firm that would study online education in Florida. Through a competitive bidding process, the contract was awarded to The Parthenon Group, which is based in Boston, MA. The Scope of Services provided that the study would include, among other requirements, a description of the nature and extent of existing online postsecondary programs in Florida; an assessment of educational opportunities needed to boost Florida’s economy; options for expanding the awarding of degrees; and, for each option, a ten-year plan for start-up and operating costs, enrollments, degree production, and revenue generated.
The report was presented to the Board's Strategic Planning Committee at a workshop on December 17, 2012, at Florida Atlantic University's Davie Campus.The Committee continued its discussion on online education at its meeting on January 16, 2013, and again at its meeting on February 13, 2013.
At its February 13 meeting, the Committee recommended that the full Board:
- Use the Strategic Plan preeminence metrics to designate the university which would create a separate arm to provide online degree programs of the highest quality, and that funds be requested of the Legislature to support such an effort. The preeminence metrics would be those passed by the 2012 Legislature and approved by the Board for use in the 2012-2013 university workplans. Further, the selected university would create an innovation and research center to (1) ensure the State is a leader in the development of cutting-edge technology and instructional design for the online programs and (2) conduct research that would help strengthen online degree programs and the success of online students.
- 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 Board approved the Committee's recommended motions at its meeting on February 21, 2013. Subsequently, Senator Galvano filed SB 1720 and the House Higher Education and Workforce Subcommittee and Representative Nunez filed HB 7057, both of which include statutory language proposed by members in the two chambers to implement the Board's first motion.