Junior Colleges May Offer 4-Year Degrees

California legislators are set to take up a bill that would enable junior colleges across the state to offer a limited amount of four-year degrees to undergraduates. The legislation, Senate Bill 850, seeks to foster a larger number of college-educated adults by expanding the accessibility of a four-year degree.

The bill’s author and primary sponsor, state Sen. Marty Block (D-San Diego), has said that the addition of new baccalaureate degrees offered will help satisfy the state’s need for an additional 1 million bachelor’s degree-holders by 2025.

“We’re excited about taking a practical approach to improving job prospects in California,” Maria Lopez, a representative for Block, told the UCSD Guardian. “[SB850] is fulfilling education needs within the frame of the California Master Plan.”

SB850 would, in its current state, only allow a maximum of one four-year degree program to be offered at a given community college campus. Each junior college also would only be able to offer a degree program that is not offered at a nearby University of California or California State University campus. Additionally, all community college baccalaureate programs would need to provide specialized skills for a particular career path, such as law enforcement management or respiratory therapy.

“Community colleges would need to demonstrate a workforce need in order to have the program approved,” Lopez said.

Lopez added that the variety of offerings for the majors could vary depending on the region and community college district.

Should SB850 be enacted, it would directly alter the text of the California Master Plan for Higher Education of 1960, which currently mandates that public junior colleges “shall offer instruction through but not beyond the 14th grade level.”

California would become the 22nd state in the country to offer junior college four-year degrees, following Michigan, which became the 21st last year. State legislators, including Block, have tried unsuccessfully four times since 2004 to allow junior colleges to offer baccalaureate degrees.

Scott Lay, the president and chief executive of the Community College League of California, says his group is supportive of the bill in an “additive capacity.”

“This is great in concept, but it doesn’t answer all the questions,” Lay said in a phone interview with the Guardian. “We don’t yet know how fees for the programs would be administered and what tuition rates students would pay.”

SB850 has already received bipartisan support in the State Senate, including Republican and bill cosponsor Joel Anderson, whose district includes parts of San Diego and Riverside. Lay says that he thinks the bill has a bright future in the legislature.

“There’s a significant interest in providing some authority to community colleges to offer four-year degrees, and Marty Block is the best person to push this forward,” Lay said. “I expect it will end up on the governor’s desk.”

The bill’s first stop will be in the Senate Education Committee, in which discussion regarding the bill is expected to begin on April 23. If approved by both houses of the legislature and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, four-year programs could begin being offered at junior colleges in the fall of 2015.

Leave a Comment
Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$0
$2500
Contributed
Our Goal

Your donation will support the student journalists at University of California, San Diego. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment, keep printing our papers, and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to The UCSD Guardian
$0
$2500
Contributed
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The UCSD Guardian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *