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Bill for community colleges to grant bachelor’s degrees passes California Legislature

Posted: August 22, 2014 1:18 p.m.
Updated: August 22, 2014 1:18 p.m.

A bill that would allow some community colleges to offer four-year degrees has passed the state Legislature and is heading to the governor’s desk.

Senate Bill 850, introduced by Sen. Marty Block, D-San Diego, would establish a pilot program that would enable some community colleges to create a baccalaureate degree program.

The bill would allow 15 campuses from 15 different community college districts to offer one baccalaureate degree each starting next year and ending in 2023. Those would begin no later than the 2017-18 academic year, according to Block.

The colleges haven’t been selected, but College of the Canyons officials said they’re interested in participating.

The degrees offered at community colleges would have to be distinct from those offered at nearby UC and CSU campuses, Block said.

“It will be value added, not duplicative,” Block said.

The College of the Canyons Board of Trustees voted earlier this year to support the bill.

“It’s an opportunity to expand access to higher education,” COC spokesman Eric Harnish said Friday. “This is something we believe would be beneficial to our community.”

While it’s too early to say what type of degree program COC could offer if selected to participate in the pilot program, Harnish said the college would “look at what makes sense for our area.”

Block said by 2025 California “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,” he said in a statement.

California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice W. Harris also praised the bill.

“In today’s economy, many businesses require their employees to possess a four-year degree or higher skill sets than are offered through associate degree programs, even in fields such as dental hygiene or automotive technology where a two-year degree would have been sufficient in the past,” said Harris, in a statement.

“This bill will enable California community colleges to confer bachelor’s degrees in areas not currently served by the California State University or University of California and help close the skills gap in our workforce.”
On Twitter @LukeMMoney





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