Hit by state budget cuts, trustees of Miami-Dade Community College _ the largest and highest-rated junior college in the nation _ voted Tuesday to turn away 3,000 students. The decision makes Miami-Dade the only community college in Florida denying enrollment to eligible students, said Betty Semet, a spokeswoman for the district.
"We take pride in being an open-door institution," school Vice President Eduardo Padron said. "But at this point, all we're doing by accepting more students is making the system mediocre."
School President Robert McCabe asked the trustees to authorize the cuts, saying enrollment had climbed 8 percent to an all-time high of almost 52,000, while the state slashed Miami-Dade's budget by 6 percent.
The budget cuts have increased class size and decreased the number of librarians, counselors, computers and support services. The enrollment cuts, which mostly affect late registrants, would begin in January and should not affect currently enrolled full-time students.
"Basically, we have no choice at this point," Padron said. "It's a question of having many more students than we can serve, and not being provided the necessary funds by the Legislature."
Miami-Dade is the largest community college in the country, and also has the largest foreign and non-English speaking enrollment of any college or university.
In the late 1970s, the school introduced innovations designed to demand more from its students and give them more direction.
Miami-Dade required general education courses and minimum grades from its students and soon became a model for junior colleges across the nation.
A survey of 14 junior college experts in 1986 rated Miami-Dade as the best community college in the country.