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These U.S. universities are offering New College students incentives to transfer

A group of students, many holding protest signs, rally at New College of Florida
Cathy Carter
WUSF Public Media
New College of Florida students, alumni, faculty, and parents recently protested changes to the school put in place by Gov. Ron DeSantis' administration.

Two northeastern universities have gone public with plans to recruit students from New College amid changes to move the liberal institution in a more conservative direction.

A couple of universities are now recruiting students at New College of Florida and elsewhere in the state amid changes brought on by Gov. Ron DeSantis' administration anti-woke policies.

Hampshire College in Amherst, Mass. — a small liberal school much like New College — announced late last week it is offering admission to all New College students in good standing. And, Hampshire will match their current cost of tuition.

Hampshire's out-of-state tuition is around $54,000. New College out-of-state tuition is nearly $30,000, and in-state tuition is about $7,000.

In its announcement, Hampshire College said, "This opportunity is in response to the continuing attacks on New College of Florida intended to limit intellectual exploration, turn back progress toward inclusion, and curtail open discussion of race, injustice, and histories of oppression."

“It's incredibly important that colleges and universities do something to try to resist what is essentially an ongoing, expanding and increasingly aggressive effort to limit free inquiry in higher education.”
Hampshire College President Edward Wingenbach

Hampshire President Edward Wingenbach said it wanted to show “solidarity” with New College students.

“It's incredibly important that colleges and universities do something to try to resist what is essentially an ongoing, expanding and increasingly aggressive effort to limit free inquiry in higher education,” Wingenbach said. “We have to see that for what it is and try and do what’s within our resources and capacities to push back on that. One of the things Hampshire can do is offer students at New College a place to go to escape that.”

Since DeSantis appointed six new board of trustees members, New College's president has been terminated and replaced by interim president Richard Corcoran, the former Florida education commissioner.

The Board of Trustees has also eliminatedthe Office of Outreach and Inclusive Excellence and banned mandatory diversity training.

"New College students will enjoy a streamlined transfer process to ensure that they can continue their education without losing any credits and without an increase in their current tuition costs, in a setting that affirms their passion for self-directed learning, narrative evaluations, free inquiry, and a transformative experience," the Hampshire College statement read.

A spokesperson for Hampshire, Jennifer Chrisler, said the school had received 15 emails and four voicemails from New College students inquiring about its matching tuition program. So far, they have had one student transfer in advance of the matching tuition program. Four others have since applied.

A spokesman for the Florida Department of Education did not respond to a request for comment.

Founded in 1970, the school has a more flexible academic philosophy than other colleges. Students design their own courses of study, often combining several different academic fields. Instead of grades, students get “narrative evaluations” on papers and projects.

Another northeastern school has announced it's launching a recruiting effort across the Florida university system.

In a column in Tuesday's Miami Herald, Donald Hall, the provost of Binghamton University in New York, said his institution is planning to aggressively recruit students and faculty from all Florida universities.

Hall wrote that "all students are welcome on our campus and will be supported whatever their gender expression, sexuality, race or set of political beliefs might be."

Hall added, "we see extraordinary opportunities for recruiting faculty who feel threatened by Florida state policies and the climate of campus suspicion and intolerance that Gov. DeSantis is promoting."

Hall said current Florida education policies may create a reverse intellectual migration from Florida to the north.

"Snow or no snow," wrote Hall, "ours is a much warmer environment."

Information from the Associated Press contributed to this report.

I started my journalism career delivering the Toledo Blade newspaper on my bike.