By Chelsea Galvez |Staff Writer|
California community colleges will begin offering bachelor’s degrees in health, science, and technology fields for $10 thousand in a new pilot program beginning in 2017.
This price is in comparison to an average tuition cost of $20 thousand for a bachelor’s degree at CSUSB.
According to SFGate.com, up to 15 community colleges will be granted eligibility to offer students bachelor’s degrees after meeting requirements from the state of California.
This new program hopes to benefit California’s working class, as more of the population will be able to occupy several positions that often require a degree, according to SFGate.com.
“Employers in California seek candidates with advanced credentials and many struggle to fill positions in some of the fields that will be covered under the new program,” said California community colleges Chancellor, Brice Harris, reported by USA News.
With this new source of bachelor’s degrees underway, many are questioning the effect it will have on four year universities and students, particularly within the California State University (CSU) and University of California (UC) systems.
“I don’t think that the new system is fair because community colleges are used to lead to Universities and we’ve all worked really hard to end up here,” said student Cindy Sandoval. “It is unsettling that people are able to earn the same degree on a smaller dime when I’ve paid so much.”
University professors and staff share strong opinions concerning the new program. They see the program as unnecessary and impractical for community colleges.
“We all have a role to play [community colleges, CSUs and UCs] and we shouldn’t get them confused,” said Dr. Astrid Sheil, the interim chair and associate professor for the CSUSB finance department. “Cal State San Bernardino’s mission is to help deserving and underserved populations complete an exceptional undergraduate degree program, and maybe a master’s degree. It’s our mandate.”
“Community colleges have a mandate to prepare students for either the workforce or for upper division course work at a four year institution. That’s what they do best,” continued Sheil.
Despite preconceptions, there seems to be no intent on duplicating or competing with the established CSU and UC systems. Instead, the bill intends to offer cheap and convenient access to a degree and ultimately lead to a job in fields that are currently in high demand.
“This law will help us to meet California’s workforce needs, does not duplicate CSU or UC degree programs, and gives more Californians access to affordable higher education that can enable them to obtain well-paying jobs,” said Harris, reported by USA News.
Not all are hesitant on the matter, some community college students see it as a positive that will allow them to achieve greater education on a tighter budget.
“I think the program would be super helpful. I could focus on my education more rather than having to work and take the fastest route possible to get my degree instead of getting into more debt,” said Victor Valley Community College student, Tara Ledford.
Since the program is not set to begin until 2017, little information has been released pertaining to the quality of education as well as the requirements that community colleges will have to meet in order to gain eligibility to offer bachelor’s degree programs.