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Report: Florida Higher Education Good on Productivity, Low on Funds

A report produced by a Washington D.C. think tank says Florida gets a pretty big bang for its buck when it comes to higher education.

The Delta Cost Project, which analyzes higher education costs, released a report last month that compared degrees awarded with funding for the universities and community colleges and found that Florida's funding per degree or certificate is the lowest in the country.

The U.S. average is $46,522 per degree or certificate. Florida spent about $29,000 per degree or certificate in 2007, the last year, for which statistics are available.

“The public postsecondary education systems in Colorado, Utah, Florida, Oklahoma, and Washington perform very well relative to other states with low levels of resources,” the report reads.

The report came as good news to the Florida Board of Governors, which met this week and is trying to improve its relationship with lawmakers, who have historically been less than receptive to the higher education system. At
Thursday's meeting, the board conducted a workshop on how to create uniform accountability standards for the entire system, which it believes will help promote relationships with the state university system as well.

Board staff has been examining the best formats for the system to show they are accountable to the government and to the students.

“I think it's very important for us to be able to show that we have a rational planning process and rational accountability too,” said Board Chair Sheila McDevitt.

For the board, it's also about improving the relationship with state lawmakers, which has often been marked by cat fights.

Florida Atlantic University President Frank Brogan, who will become the chancellor of the 11-university system in September, acknowledged Thursday that a huge part of his new job will be building on the relationship with the Legislature and trying to show Floridians that they get what they pay for when it comes to higher education.

Brogan said a key goal would be to figure out “How can we 11 universities that are on one hand very similar, and on the other hand, very unique from one another, create an accountability system that will be clear, concise and demonstrate to the entire state and also to the House and Senate that the money that is being infused into higher education is an appropriate return on investment?”

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