US: Declining quality at Florida universities

A state-wide organisation that studies Florida's higher education system issued a sombre report last week calling for reform in universities it says are too big, have crowded classrooms, are academically below schools nationwide, and are losing top researchers as budget cuts continue to threaten programmes, reports the Palm Beach Post. The report from Enlace Florida is its second this year critical of the state's 11 public universities.

The report was issued, officials said, to raise awareness of the deterioration of universities among Florida's politicians and voting public. Enlace Florida, which is funded by the WK Kellogg Foundation and based at the University of South Florida in Tampa, focuses on the enrolment of minorities in Florida universities. But while researching those numbers it saw quality become a larger concern. According to the Palm Beach Post, it found that:

* About 75% of Florida's university students attend a school with an enrolment of more than 30,000, against 22% nationally.
* The number of classes with enrolments between 100 and 199 students grew by 92% between 1996 and 2007.
* The average number of students per faculty member grew from 18 in 1988 to 27 last year.
Full report on the Palm Beach Post site