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Florida Lawmakers Consider An Online University

Florida lawmakers are considering whether to create a 13th public state university which would be entirely online. The conversation got underway Wednesday as a group of Senators heard a report about the current state of online higher education, and the possibilities for expanding it.

The study by the education consulting firm, the Parthenon Group, looked at four things:  increasing access, lower costs, providing greater flexibility in learning and strengthening the tie between workforce demands and higher education. Rob Lytle, a partner with Parthenon, says there’s no silver bullet in meeting those goals.

“What we want is to lay out a strategy for you to think about in how to use online education, the method to go about delivering it that will lead to great outcomes for students in the state," Lytle said.

Florida lawmakers are exploring the idea of a public university that would be entirely online. House Speaker Will Weatherford has spoken in support of the idea in the past. But how such a university would exist with current college and university online options is still an unknown. The Parthenon report has put the cost of establishing an online university at $70 million.

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Lynn Hatter is a Florida A&M University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Lynn has served as reporter/producer for WFSU since 2007 with education and health care issues as her key coverage areas.  She is an award-winning member of the Capital Press Corps and has participated in the NPR Kaiser Health News Reporting Partnership and NPR Education Initiative. 

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