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FAA hiring changes at odds with university program

By Lauren Maxwell 10:04 PM February 27, 2014

Some question whether their degrees are even worth it

ANCHORAGE - The Federal Aviation Administration is changing the way it hires air traffic controllers and the news is a blow to schools that offer degrees in aviation, including the University of Alaska Anchorage.

The University has one of the top-rated programs in the country, offering both two- and four-year degrees in air traffic control.

With the exception of some military experience, the FAA required candidates to go through one of these certified programs before being offered employment and accepted into the FAA training academy in Oklahoma City.

Graduates weren’t guaranteed jobs but they were given a strong hiring preference by the FAA.

Two weeks ago that hiring preference went out the window and the agency opened the doors to almost anyone to apply for the jobs.

Staff at UAA said the news came as a total surprise.

“They didn’t really explain why they made the change they just said this is changing,” said associate professor Sharon LaRue. “Also, the fact that they have been a partner with us since the 1990s and they didn’t talk to us at all before this happened.”

Without a hiring preference students will find it tougher to get a job. That’s because thousands more people are applying now that the rules have loosened up. Some are wondering if the time and money they’ve put into a degree is even worth it.

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