Increase in STEM degrees could mean higher tuition at some state universities

Jan 13, 2012

State Universities say they have no problem with the governor’s request to see more science and technology degrees produced. But they also note that they need more money to do it. Lynn Hatter reports Representatives from Florida’s 11 public universities spoke before a highly anticipated House Education Committee where recommendations- or legislation—could be produced.

Before a panel of lawmakers, University of Florida President Bernie Machen talked about the importance of producing science and technology degrees. Machen says that’s a good idea, and he’s okay with tying it to funding.

 “I would be okay with them saying, ‘we will base a portion of your funding on STEM degrees.’ We don’t have to do it, but if we don’t do it we would have funding at risk.”

But Machen says the need to produce more of those degrees shouldn’t come at the expense of other programs. He also says universities should be allowed to raise tuition for those programs so they can fund the professors who will teach them.  Governor Rick Scott has called for universities to step up their STEM production as part of his call for higher education reform. Lawmakers are beginning that conversation this year.