YUCAIPA: Crafton Hills to offer bachelor’s degree program

21 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

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

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California school officials are set to select as many as 15 community colleges for a pilot program that would allow them to offer 4-year degrees. SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Fifteen California community colleges received preliminary approval Tuesday to start offering career-oriented bachelor’s degrees, a step that represents a first for the nation’s largest college system and that supporters said is needed to ensure residents are prepared for jobs that in the past may have required only two years of training. The colleges recommended by system Chancellor Brice Harris and endorsed by the system’s Board of Governors were selected from a pool of 34 applicants. 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.

They are located throughout the state, from Crafton Hills College near San Bernardino and Mesa College in San Diego to Feather River College in Quincy and Shasta College in Redding. Changing technology and educational expectations have driven employers in fields such as dental hygiene, respiratory therapy and automotive technology – which once required only two-year associate degrees – to seek workers with a baccalaureate.

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. 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 colleges plan to offer. “This is about jobs. The degree will help students find employment in the manufacturing sector of the biotechnology industry, which includes biotherapeutics, diagnostics, supplies and services, and industrial products.

It’s about preparing students for our workforce, the requirements of which have changed,” San Diego Community College District Chancellor Constance M. Carroll told the board. “Students seeking jobs will now have a competitive opportunity which did they did not have before.” The schools were picked on the basis of location, their capacity to create a high-quality program in a short amount of time and local labor market demand, Harris said.

Skyline College President Regina Stanback Stroud, whose San Mateo County school was cleared to expand its existing two-year respiratory therapy program into a four-year course of study, said she hopes to have it operating in the fall of 2016. Local employers have been telling college officials for some time that they require new hires to hold four-year degrees, Stroud said. “If you look at that and think about what employers say they need and where the profession is evolving toward high-level skills, we are anticipating a great demand,” she said.

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.” He originally proposed a bill without a cap on the number of participating colleges but said the limited pilot program would be “a game-changer” that “will change not just the face of higher education in California, but our workforce.” Under the legislation, students earning their baccalaureates would pay an additional $84 per unit for upper-division courses on top of the regular per-unit fee for community college classes is $46 per unit, for a total of $132. The cost, however, would still be far less than the $220 and $270 per credit now charged by Cal State and UC campuses, board member Colin van Loon said. 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.

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