Florida's new speaker of the house, Will Weatherford, said Tuesday that he supports allowing public research universities such as the University of Central Florida and the University of Florida to charge higher tuition than other state universities.
The idea was among several higher-education reforms that Weatherford told a crowd in Orlando that he is backing as the Legislature prepares for its next session in March.
During a panel discussion at the Ball Room at Church Street, Weatherford said allowing the state's top research universities to charge more would help them fund improvements and raise their national profile. Today, tuition among state universities varies only slightly. Florida State University and the University of South Florida are also considered top research institutions.
"I think people are willing to pay more for a product if they know that product is going to be better," Weatherford told a crowd of about 250 people who gathered for the discussion, which also featured E. Ann McGee, the president of Seminole State College; Tico Perez, who just completed his seventh year serving on the Board of Governors of the State University System; and Tom Auxter, president of the statewide faculty union.