Community Colleges Move Closer To Offering 4-Year Degrees

21 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

15 Calif. Community Colleges Being Selected To Offer 4-Year Degrees.

SANTA MONICA ( — Several Southland community colleges will likely be among those to be picked Tuesday for a pilot program that would allow them to offer 4-year degrees. Santa Ana College and Cypress College were named to a list of 15 community colleges statewide that can offer four-year college degrees, according to the California Community Colleges chancellor’s office. Jerry Brown, the system’s governing board on Tuesday tentatively approved four-year degree programs at 15 community college campuses that will be introduced over the next three academic years.

Marty Block, as many as 15 colleges statewide could offer degrees in fields such as health information management, dental hygiene and biomanufacturing. Advocates of community college bachelor’s degrees, which already are in place in 21 other states, have pushed for their introduction in California to close a potential 1 million degree shortage in the state workforce by 2025. The chancellor’s office said a bachelor’s degree may be obtainable for about $10,000 under the new programs and noted the California economy’s need for 1 million more four-year graduates by 2025.

Butte College had proposed a Bachelor of Arts degree in product process technology, which combines welding, fabrication, computer science, drafting and agriculture. Senate Bill 850 allowed for up to 15 pilot degrees in majors not offered by the University of California or California State University, with the aim of meeting demand for highly-trained workers in technical fields. Despite the financial benefits of pursuing a degree from community college – which is frequently far less expensive than a traditional four-year school – some students at Santa Monica College were skeptical of the proposal. “It’s a big risk because I don’t know how people are going to react getting a community college stamp on their degree, there’s a like a social type of thing there,” said one student. “But I think if it’s cheaper, a lot of people are gonna go for it.” Marty Block, D-San Diego, who authored SB 850, said at a press conference following the vote. “California should never be behind the curve, and now we are no longer behind the curve.” A committee selected the 15 college programs from among “34 tremendously-done proposals,” Harris said, considering labor market needs and the ability of colleges to deliver on their applications, as well as geographic, institutional and subject diversity.

Emergency services, dental hygiene, automotive technology, respiratory care and mortuary science are some of the degrees the participating community colleges plan to offer. Board member Thomas Epstein praised the rapid turnaround on applications that were first solicited in November: “It’s rare that something this important gets done this quickly by government.”

California’s move comes as its higher education institutions are recovering from several years of deep budget cuts that limited enrollment and course offerings, making it harder for students to complete their studies. Block said the program will help more students prepare for jobs without having to take out loans and give employers a more qualified workforce to draw from.

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