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PRESS RELEASE

January 18, 2006

Jennifer Fennell or
Cathy Schroeder
(850) 245-0413

Access Task Force Holds Final Meeting

ORLANDO — Presented at the final meeting of the Access Task Force held today in Orlando was a draft report outlining recommendations for increasing access to postsecondary education in Florida. The draft report will be forwarded to the Florida Legislature in time for consideration during the 2006 Legislative Session.

"The goal of the Access Task Force is to maximize the level of access to postsecondary education for Florida students of all ages," said Chairman Handy. "The recommendations contained in the report will ensure that more students, regardless of their socio-economic level, are able to continue their education with as many opportunities as possible."

Recommendations contained in the report include:

  • Provide authority for community college and state university tuition flexibility if certain accountability mechanisms are met.
  • Keep intact current authority for community colleges to grant bachelors degrees upon approval from the State Board of Education as an additional mechanism to provide access to critical programs.
  • Provide for other incentives that motivate students and institutions to move toward more critical-need programs and partnerships.

"Expanding opportunities to a college education is a vital concern," said Carolyn Roberts, chair of the Florida Board of Governors, which guides the State University System, and co-chair of the Higher Education Access Task Force. "If we can find ways to bring more of our citizens into our colleges and universities, then we can enrich lives and help secure the economic future of our state. We must make higher education more accessible if Florida is to remain competitive in the 21st century."

Following approval by task force members, the report would then be shared with all constituent audiences, including the State Board of Education, Board of Governors, Florida Legislature and local policy groups.

Created last June, the task force is a joint effort between the State Board of Education and the Florida Board of Governors. Members represent public and private schools, colleges and universities. The task force's purpose is to explore, consider and recommend policies for meeting the growing demand for access to quality higher education in Florida by assessing current and expected capacity of public and private delivery systems and institutions.