Community Colleges Battle Head On With Universities

2015 | | May 12, 2015 at 11:55 am

community-collegeCommunity colleges are learning that getting the authorization to offer four-year degrees doesn’t mean the struggle is over.

Twenty-two states allow community colleges to award bachelor’s degrees, and many administrators believe that number will grow. During the 2015 American Association of Community Colleges annual meeting here, many of those administrators said they are working to convince the public and their counterparts in the four-year community of the benefits of offering a four-year program — and that they continue to face limits and opposition.

Florida has allowed community colleges to confer four-year degrees for years, yet last year the colleges received a new hurdle when the state Legislature placed a moratorium on new four-year programs. Meanwhile, California’s pilot program — viewed as a breakthrough for the movement — is limited to 15 colleges that may offer at most one bachelor’s degree program each and may not offer degrees offered by any public university.

California authorities approved four-year programs at community colleges in dental hygiene, biomanufacturing and health information management, but nursing was excluded because that would have duplicated public university programs.

By 2020 the state will have a critical shortage of nurses, said Constance Carroll, chancellor of San Diego Community College District, because hospitals will be required to have 80 percent of the nursing staff holding bachelor’s degrees. In 2014, the state’s Board of Registered Nurses reported about 60 percent of their workforce had obtained a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Much more to read after the jump…

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