California is making an effort to be the 22nd state, following Michigan, to give community colleges the legal authority to issue bachelor’s degrees.
The California State Senate is currently reviewing SB850, a bill drawn up by Senators Joel Anderson of San Diego, Marty Block of San Diego and Jerry Hill of San Mateo. SB850 passed the state Senate last month with a 34-0 vote and is in the Assembly Committee on Higher Education. SB850 will enable the community college system’s chancellor to create an eight-year pilot program that allows a community college in each district to offer a degree known as the applied baccalaureate in the 2017-2018 academic year.
According to Edsource, although the bill does not state specific majors, they would mostly be in skilled professions. These professions may include engineering and medical field related professions such as nursing, dental hygiene and automotive technology. The bill states that students will learn everything necessary to secure jobs in their area because local businesses will assist the development of the program.
In addition, a reason that this bill was proposed was because the state will need about one million additional bachelor’s degrees by 2025 to meet the growing demand for skilled workers. The bill states that California is not producing a large enough skilled workforce to compete in a changing economy.
“I don’t think this will be beneficial to [our] society. There’s a reason that professional careers require you to walk down a certain path in life,” senior Monica Wu said. “It’s a great idea for those [who] want to catch up in life and [who] want to be able to get a second degree in something, but it shouldn’t offer bachelor degrees in a career that [can] make or break a life , such as engineering [or] medical field related professions.”
According to the Spartan Daily, there will be an extra fee for students to pay in order to obtain a bachelor’s degree, but it will still be far cheaper than four-year universities’ tuition. However, SB850 states that community colleges will not offer degrees that are available at nearby four-year institutions such as those of the California State University (CSU) system or University of California (UC) system. Yet, resources will be in place to create a worthwhile program to maintain its ability to educate students.
According to Edsource, legislators had tried to propose 4 similar bills since 2004 and failed because it was faced with opposition from CSUs, UCs and some community college systems.
“I think this bill is really going to be really beneficial for the people who want to pursue a career and get a bachelor’s degree but may not have the financial support to do it. However, at the same time, it’s only really going to benefit those who want to pursue the majors the community colleges will provide,” sophomore Belinda Cai said.
This bill would then expire in eight years after it goes into effect; a report evaluating the program would be filed a year before the expiration date.