South Florida State College students will be guaranteed admission to degree programs at the University of South Florida under an agreement described as “groundbreaking” by USF president Judy Genshaft.

SFSC president Dr. Thomas C. Leitzel (second from left) at a ceremony at the University of South Florida launching FUSE.

SFSC president Dr. Thomas C. Leitzel (second from left) at a ceremony at the University of South Florida launching FUSE.

The FUSE program guarantees students access to competitive programs at USF by opening seamless academic pathways for students studying at SFSC and six other Florida College System (FCS) institutions.

Any SFSC student can participate in FUSE. By maintaining a 2.0 grade-point average, completing the required course sequences, and earning an associate degree at SFSC, students will secure guaranteed admission to limited access programs at USF. A limited access program uses selective admission criteria to limit enrollment.

SFSC students can begin enrolling in FUSE with the start of the fall 2017 academic term.

“SFSC is excited to team up with USF to provide pathways to university degrees for many of our students,” said Dr. Sidney Valentine, vice president for Academic Affairs and Student Services. “Under this agreement, students participating in the FUSE program will be guaranteed admission to competitive programs at a world-class research institution.”

On Oct 21, Dr. Valentine joined SFSC president Dr. Thomas C. Leitzel at a ceremony launching the FUSE partnership that included representatives from the other participating institutions.

FUSE students will receive academic advising from counselors at both USF and SFSC to ensure they are completing the prescribed sequence of coursework that satisfies the requirements for their associate degree as well as admission requirements to their selected bachelor’s degree program at USF.

FUSE students will be eligible to participate in USF campus activities, events, and sports.

“FUSE is open to all SFSC students,” said Dr. Christopher van der Kaay, executive director of Institutional Effectiveness, Planning, and Technology. “When students opt for FUSE, they are not just SFSC students, they’re also USF students as well.”

Dr. van der Kaay noted that FUSE revolves around two critical elements of university education: access and affordability.

“SFSC FUSE students get guaranteed access to programs at a top-ranked research university close to home,” he said. “What’s more, FUSE enhances affordability because SFSC students earn their associate degree at a much lower cost than by taking classes at USF during their freshman and sophomore years.”

With the start of FUSE next fall, SFSC students can choose psychology, biomedical science, business and finance, accounting, and an engineering degree with an emphasis on information technology, according to Dr. van der Kaay.

“The beauty of FUSE is that it will be easy to implement,” said Dr. van der Kaay. “USF will facilitate the training of our advising and counseling staff starting next month.”

In addition to SFSC, students at six other FCS colleges can enroll in FUSE: Hillsborough Community College, St. Petersburg College, College of Central Florida, Pasco-Hernando State College, Polk State College, and State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota.

“SFSC students and their parents will benefit tremendously from FUSE,” said Dr. van der Kaay. “As admission to USF’s programs becomes increasingly competitive, our students now have the advantage of guaranteed access once they earn their degree at SFSC.”