Trying to be “Worlds Ahead” can put a heavy-handed burden on FIU’s shoulders, however these decisions should not be made in haste. When this happens, it leaves doubt in the minds of the University community.
The proposed contract with the company Academic Partnerships would really carry the University’s “Worlds Ahead” mantra by helping it gain the increase in enrollment numbers it yearns.
The partnership would help market a new online Master of Business Administration program to foreign students in China and South American regions.
The company has a goal of recruiting 100 students for every class. However, University records show that AP has fallen short of its recruitment goals except for once.
The company has a goal of recruiting 100 students for every class.
In 16 classes, the company has met this goal only once in 2011 with 117 students. According to The Miami Herald, the three most recent classes have had only 67, 54 and 40 company-recruited students.
Dean of University College Joyce Elam told The Beacon she is not looking at the numbers because she is no longer in charge of the partnership, but the University is satisfied with the recruitment AP has done. Elam also said that the University does not have the capital nor the “translation materials” to do the marketing on their own which is where AP comes in.
Academic Partnerships was initially taking about 70 percent of tuition revenues from the program. The University later negotiated this to 45 percent.
But the University needs to look at the enrollment numbers of the past and use that as a determining factor in the decision; recruiting as many students as possible is the goal and these numbers should be the first thing the University weighs out.
Although Elam is no longer dean of the College of Business, she or someone from within University College should continuously monitor AP’s progress and make suggestions on whether to continue using the company.
If the University does not have the resources to run FIU Global on its own, then it should not continue using AP if it has not met the University’s enrollment goals.
The main problem is that the decision did not have any competition nor was it voted upon. AP is not new to the University, with the first contract signed in 2009 that created the online MBA program. The Faculty Senate is supposed to approve new degree programs but it was not informed of the contract.
What’s the hurry? During the Faculty Senate meeting on Feb. 21, concern was raised over the Faculty Senate being “circumvented” when it came to the AP decision and working with a company of lesser quality.
Let’s not forget that the founder and chairman of AP, Randy Best, a close friend of Jeb Bush. This creates some political tension around the University that is discomforting. The University should understand that the community will not overlook the political affiliations connected to the company.
While we applaud the University for trying to create relations outside of itself and reaching out to outside companies to help it expand, we need to look at all of our options and not make decisions without involving all parties concerned.