Calif community colleges eye bachelor’s degree offerings

Community colleges in a growing number of states are offering bachelor’s degrees. Now California and its huge two-year system may join that group, reports InsideHigher Ed

“A committee created by Brice Harris, the system’s chancellor, quietly began meeting last month to mull whether the state’s 112 community colleges should be granted the authority to offer four-year degrees. While the process has just started and has many hurdles to clear, it’s certain to be an attention-grabber in California and beyond.imgres-1

“Not everybody is sold on the idea that community colleges should be in the bachelor’s-degree business, which more than 20 states now allow. Nearby public universities in particular tend to bristle at competition for students and dwindling state dollars.

“Some two-year college leaders and faculty members also worry about “mission creep” and whether striver colleges that seek to become four-year institutions might lose track of their core purpose of providing job training for local students, often from underserved populations. Michigan is the most notable state to take the leap of late, with a new law that allows community colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees in a limited number of technical fields. That battle is not over, however, as the state’s four-year institutions continue to fight the legislation. If California followed the lead of states like Michigan and Florida, it could add significant momentum to the trend. The state’s two-year system enrolls 2.4 million students, or one in four community college students nationwide. The move to offer four-year degrees at California community colleges would also pose a challenge to the traditional boundaries that the state’s Master Plan for Higher Education established.That influential framework, which was created in 1960, defined the roles of three tiers of public institutions – the community colleges, California State University and University of California Systems. Each sector has historically served different purposes to eliminate redundancy, with community colleges being the open-admission and transfer institutions.”

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Inside Higher Ed

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