Bill passes to allow four-year degrees at community colleges

May 28, 2014 by

A pilot program that would allow 15 California community college campuses to offer four-year degrees was approved by the state Senate on a 34-0 vote Tuesday.

The bill originally was touted as a way to produce more graduates with bachelor’s degrees in nursing, but was amended in April to exclude degrees — such as nursing — that are already offered by state-funded colleges.

“California has a workforce skills gap,” said Sen. Marty Block, D-San Diego, who authored SB 850. “By 2025 our state will need 1 million more adults with four-year degrees. We need to use all of California’s resources — including our community colleges— to close that gap.”

More than 20 states already allow community colleges to offer baccalaureate degrees.

Baccalaureate degrees offered at the chosen campuses could not duplicate degrees offered by the University of California or California State University campuses. The state’s community college Board of Governors and chancellor would select the participating districts and campuses.

The campuses could offer one degree under the program.

Block, a former community college trustee, has repeatedly introduced legislation to allow community colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees with no success.

He said the pilot programs in this bill would help the state graduate more students with bachelor degrees, particularly in technical and vocational fields.

“We’re in a different time now,” Block said. “California is in a better position now to invest in closing our skills gap… It’s wishful thinking to believe we can meet the challenge of producing another 60,000 bachelor degrees a year without using community colleges, and the longer we delay in using them, the further behind we will fall.”

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