TAMPA, Fla. (Oct. 21, 2016) – The University of South Florida System and seven regional Florida College System institutions today celebrated the launch of FUSE, a new guaranteed admission program that creates a seamless and timely degree path for students to earn an associate degree before transferring to any of the USF System institutions for a bachelor’s degree. The new program differs from existing Florida programs that guarantee admission to a State University System school, as FUSE offers guaranteed admission to the USF System institution and degree program of the student’s choosing. With more than 40 students in the initial cohort, Hillsborough Community College and St. Petersburg College are piloting the program, while the College of Central Florida, Pasco-Hernando State College, Polk State College, South Florida State College and State College of Florida will join the program in the near future.
By syncing courses and creating graduation pathways for select degrees, the participating institutions have ensured students will take the classes needed to seamlessly attain associate and bachelor’s degrees. Students who apply and are enrolled in the FUSE program are placed on an established graduation pathway plan to ensure that courses taken apply to their associate degree and successfully transfer towards a USF System bachelor’s degree. With academic advising provided from both institutions at their regional college, FUSE students will be ensured of the appropriate degree path, meeting all requirements, earning their associate degree in a timely manner and guaranteed admission to the USF System.
“This groundbreaking partnership will make a meaningful difference in the lives of students and their families, and advance the cause of higher education attainment across the Tampa Bay Region,” said USF System President Judy Genshaft. “Expanding and preserving access for students is essential to their success. FUSE makes college more affordable and eliminates many of the barriers students can encounter on the road to their degrees.”
Graduation pathway bachelor’s degrees currently offered in the FUSE program include:
- Accounting - Art History - Studio Art
- Criminology - Elementary Education - Finance
- Exceptional Student Education - Marketing - Biomedical Sciences
Additionally, to help ease the transition to USF, FUSE students will also be engaged in activities ontheir selected USF System campus, including a specially designed orientation session at the outset of the program and ongoing general student involvement in social activities while they are enrolled in their community colleges.
“After that first meeting with all those working on FUSE, I knew it was a program I needed to be in,” said David Martinez, Jr., a freshman majoring in marketing at HCC and FUSE enrollee. “An advisor who knows my name will be helping me all the way through, priority registration, no wasted credits, access to USF student events - it was all too perfect to pass on.”
With climbing employer demand for employees with higher education, the FUSE program will help the Tampa Bay region and surrounding areas meet this need by producing more graduates with associate’s and bachelor’s degrees.
“By 2020, 65 percent of Florida jobs will require a postsecondary degree or certificate, so we need to make sure students are getting the education and earning the degrees to fill those jobs,” said Laurie Meggesin, executive director, Florida College Access Network. “The FUSE program is another excellent step by USF in developing an employable workforce so critical to our state’s economy.”
Newly-released U.S. Census data shows that Florida has increased the percent of college-educated Floridians for the sixth year in a row with 39.9 percent of working-age adults holding an associate’s degree or higher, but the state still lags behind the national average of 40.9 percent.
“We are excited to offer students such a seamless transition from a regional Florida Community College System institution to USF,” said Ralph Wilcox, provost and senior vice president for the USF System. “FUSE students will come to us with their associate’s degree, already familiar with an advisor, engaged in campus activities, and academically prepared for USF—I consider that a formula for bachelor’s success. That’s a win for the student, USF, employers and the state of Florida.”
For more information about the FUSE program, visit www.usf.edu/fuse.