Momentum for Four-Year Degrees at Community Colleges

Sep 2, 2014 by

Since 2003, when South Texas College, Midland College and Brazosport College received permission to offer bachelor’s degrees, several other community colleges have tried to acquire the same authority.

Ahead of the 2015 legislative session, momentum seems to be building for other two-year institutions to get a chance to offer four-year degrees.

Opening the door for new bachelor’s degrees in nursing and applied sciences at community colleges is listed as a priority recommendation for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

In early August, Raymund Paredes, the state’s higher education commissioner, who had expressed skepticism about such programs in the past, notified legislators that he planned to recommend that such offerings be allowed at more institutions.

“I made my recommendation on the basis of trying to create another pathway for poor, nontraditional students in Texas to achieve a baccalaureate degree,” he said.

His recommendation comes on the heels of a study, mandated by a bill that passed during the 2013 legislative session, that found that allowing more community colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees could make it easier to meet work force needs and would increase access to education for would-be students.

The study, by the RAND Corporation, a nonprofit research organization, also cited concerns in the higher education community about mission creep at two-year schools and the potential for creating unproductive competition between universities and colleges.

The report offered three options: make no changes to the current landscape, allow for unrestricted expansion of four-year degrees at community colleges or allow restricted growth. The choices, according to the study, “necessarily involve difficult trade-offs.”

Paredes, who ultimately chose to recommend the third option, noted that the controls would be tight.

via Momentum for Four-Year Degrees at Community Colleges | The Texas Tribune.

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