Legislature Considers State College System
The future of higher education throughout the state may one day look like what you encounter in the School of Education at InterAmerican Campus, the School of Justice at North Campus or the School of Nursing at Medical Center Campus.
That’s because Miami Dade College has been included in a short list of institutions that may participate in Florida’s State College Pilot Project, legislation that seeks to examine the establishment of a new tier in public higher education.
Currently, Florida’s college and university systems are divided into two levels: state universities that offer degrees up to the doctorate and community colleges that focus on undergraduate education and workforce development.
MDC is part of the latter group, educating more lower-division students than any other institution in the state or the nation.
But MDC and a handful of other schools started a trend in workforce education by developing four-year-degree programs that meet specific workforce demands.
The College’s first bachelor’s degree program was in education. Later, the College launched bachelor’s degrees in public safety management and nursing, and more are in development.
Other institutions have followed this course, and state lawmakers are mulling proposals that would establish a new system of governing and regulating these institutions.
Everything is still in flux, explains Victoria Hernández, the College’s director of government relations.
The House and Senate bills must be reconciled if the measure is to be approved. And by the close of the session on May 2, the structure of the proposed State College System could change dramatically from what’s already been reported.
But the gist of the proposals is this:
The state would create a system for the 28 community colleges to transition to baccalaureate-degree-granting “state colleges” if they choose.
A task force of leaders in education would propose the specific structure of the new system based on recommendations from institutions selected to participate in the State College Pilot Project.
This means if the measures succeed and a State College System is established, MDC will have a say in modeling that new system.
— Gariot P. Louima
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