State's 'Online U' Would Be National First

Ann McClure's picture

Florida, not known as a higher-education innovator, nevertheless might become the first state in the nation to open an all-online public university.

As even venerable institutions such as Harvard University and MIT join the push to offer more coursework online, the "mail-order diploma" is losing its stigma.

Nicknamed "Online U," it would be Florida's 13th university. It's one option of several under consideration by the state's Board of Governors as it grapples with an increasing need for an educated workforce, rising tuition and a loss of utility tax money for construction of new buildings.

The board this month hired The Parthenon Group of Boston to begin researching online options, including the fully online school. Another possibility is pulling together the best online courses offered at the University of South Florida, University of Florida, Florida State University and others, making them available to all students, no matter their home school.

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