The Florida House has unanimously passed a bill to create an online-only institute at an existing Florida university.
“Florida is leading the charge on the digital revolution in higher education,” said House Speaker Will Weatherford. “We are taking the necessary steps to ensure our students will be ready to compete in the global marketplace.”
Weatherford had been pushing for a university that’s online only. This move essentially gives him the next best thing.
The bill requires the state’s top research university to create an institute for online education. It also sets requirements for daily operations and tuition.
Once the institute is in place, students will be able to enroll and complete a four-year undergraduate program without ever visiting the campus.
The legislation also creates flexibility for Florida high school students to pursue career education or industry certification courses. It adds diploma distinctions that enable students to choose courses closely aligned with their interests and career goals.
Digital and financial literacy will be emphasized, too.
Rep. Marlene O’Toole, R-Lady Lake, said the legislation will give students a significant competitive advantage.
“It takes the additional step of establishing opportunities to tie our high school students’ career goals directly to their education,” O’Toole said. “This will better prepare Florida’s students for a successful, independent life after graduation.”
The Board of Governors will designate a Florida university to establish the institute.
Weatherford’s staff says the move will make Florida home to the first accredited, public research university to offer a wide array of fully online, four-year baccalaureate programs.
The bill already passed the Senate and will now go to Gov. Rick Scott’s desk.