The University of Central Florida will get more than $2.6 million in performance funding this year under a new legislative plan state university leaders call far from perfect.
UCF and the University of South Florida are to get the two largest slices-- $2,608,696 each -- of the money allocated for performance funding, under a distribution system the Board of Governors approved Thursday.
The Florida Legislature earmarked $20 million total for performance funding for state universities to be handed out by the end of the year.
Each of the 11 state universities are to get some money, with New College of Florida getting the smallest amount -- $434,783 -- and UCF and USF the most.
Florida State University is to get almost $2.2 million while the University of Florida is to get about $1.7 million.
Gov. Rick Scott encouraged the performance funding and Thursday called it a "win for students and Florida universities."
Scott said the money will be handed out "based on our institutions' effectiveness in preparing our students for the future."
The legislation requires the $20 million be split among state universities based on three benchmarks: the percentage of graduates employed or enrolled in further education, the average wage of employed graduates, and the average cost to educate each graduate.
The three "metrics" are narrow and have "unintended consequences," said Tom Kuntz, chairman of the board's budget and finance committee.
Some others on the committee agreed.
"What we have here is not the right answer," Kuntz added.
The employment data, for example, is based only on university graduates who are working in Florida -- ignoring anyone who took a job out of state -- and may favor institutions whose graduates work in areas of the state where wages are higher.
The state has been pushing universities to graduate more students in so-called STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math). But those programs are expensive, and the new performance plan rewards schools for keeping per-student costs low, seemingly a disincentive for institutions to push academic programs that are coupled with costly labs and technology.
The law gave the board of governors no leeway to alter the three performance "metrics," however, but instead required it to develop a methodology for splitting up the money based on those requirements.
The plan awards schools from one to three points in each category. UCF and USF get the most money because they earned the most points, six or two in each category.
The board is working on a broader performance funding plan that would judge schools on 10 categories, Kuntz said, and that is to be presented to the Legislature to consider next year.
Those categories are to include graduation and retention rates and the number of degrees awarded in certain degrees, officials said.
Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun