In what could portend a monumental shift in public higher education in California, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Sunday that will allow up to 15 community colleges to launch bachelor’s degrees programs in vocational fields.I guess the answer to my question is "because we want to", because I'm not seeing a compelling reason. Why not go down the slippery slope a little bit and allow them to grant master's degrees, too? I mean, if cost and access are truly the reasons this change is necessary....
While 21 other states offer community college baccalaureates, California’s colleges have traditionally been the domain of transfer students and career technical education, granting two-year associate degrees, as established more than 50 years ago in the Master Plan for Higher Education. Senate Bill 850 will allow colleges to experiment with four-year degrees. The pilot program is set to begin no later than the 2017-18 academic year and end in 2024.
Education, politics, and anything else that catches my attention.
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
What Is The Extremely Good Reason For Allowing Community Colleges to Grant Bachelor's Degrees?
California's master plan for higher education was drafted before I was born. It established three tiers of schools--junior/community colleges, the CSU system, and the UC system. Even today the organization of those schools, and how they interact with each other, is not without flaws, but the foundational idea remains valid. So why change it?
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I would say that part of the problem is the lack of spaces. When you hear about good students not being able to get into UC schools, even though their parents have been paying taxes for those schools for years, something is wrong. This is, of course, compounded by out-of-state and international students taking more and more of the places--they seem to be preferred to in-state students, likely because they pay more tuition than locals. If 4-year community colleges can take some of the pressure off admissions, by helping students to step down to a cheaper option than what they have now, more spaces will open up higher up the educational food chain.
A second is the cost/benefit analysis of college. When costs are skyrocketing and the benefits are increasingly questionable, more people look around for cheaper options. With competition from MOOCs on the rise, and some studies coming down with positive conclusions about them, it seems the higher ed world is shaking up.
I suspect that there is pressure among the enlarging numbers of administrators who are looking for "progress" and "prestige," and higher salaries. What better way to do it than increase the number of BA/BS granting institutions?!
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