Renewed Push To Let Community Colleges Award Bachelor’s Degrees

Career College Central summary:

  • When Michigan granted community colleges the authority to confer baccalaureate degrees a year ago, it became the 21st state to do so. An effort is under way to make California No. 22. Senate Bill 850 by Sen. Marty Block, D-San Diego, would create an eight-year pilot program allowing each of the state’s 112 community colleges to offer one degree known as an applied baccalaureate.
  • The higher education policy group California Competes indicates that the state will need up to 1 million additional bachelor’s degrees by 2025 to meet the growing demand for skilled workers. The state can’t reach that goal without community colleges, which educate some 2 million students a year, more than twice that of California State University and the University of California.
  • Although the bill doesn’t designate specific majors, they would likely be in skilled professions such as nursing, dental hygiene and automotive technology. These fields have undergone considerable advancements in recent decades, creating a demand for a more highly educated workforce. The idea isn’t new – Block and other legislators have tried and failed four times since 2004 to give community colleges the authority to grant bachelor’s degrees – and, as in past years, the proposal faces likely opposition from CSU, UC and even some corners of the community college system. Although none of the systems has yet taken a formal position on the current bill, faculty and administrators have expressed concerns that community colleges are just beginning to recover from $1.5 billion in budget cuts that slashed classes and enrollment, and may want to focus on rebuilding before starting any new building.

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