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Calif. senate passes bill on four-year degrees at CCCs

By Eu Ran Kwak

May 28, 2014 12:22 a.m.

A bill that would allow certain California community colleges to grant four-year degrees passed unanimously in the California State Senate Tuesday.

Community colleges are currently allowed to grant two-year associate degrees, but existing California law does not allow community colleges to instruct students beyond the second-year college curriculum.

California is one of 29 states that do not allow their community colleges to grant four-year degrees, according to the bill.

Senate Bill 850 was introduced in January by Sen. Marty Block (D–San Diego) and would authorize the California Community Colleges Board of Governors to create a bachelor’s degree program in up to 15 community college districts. Under the bill, the California Community Colleges chancellor would choose one campus from each of the districts to offer bachelor’s degrees.

In a press release on his website, Block said he hopes the bill will address California’s need for more adults with four-year degrees. The bill says that to remain “economically competitive,” California needs one million more bachelor degrees than the state currently produces.

“California has a workforce skills gap,” Block said in the press release. “We need to use all of California’s resources – including our community colleges – to close that gap.”

Four-year programs would take effect in the 2017-2018 academic year if the bill passes.

The University of California has yet to take an official stance on the bill.

“Exactly how this would impact us isn’t very clear,” said Brooke Converse, UC spokeswoman. “It isn’t written in a way that it would impact UC students.”

Converse said she wants the bill to make sure that it respects the boundaries between the UC, the California State University and the state’s community colleges.

“(We hope) it won’t replicate any existing programs,” she said.

SB 850 will now advance to the California Assembly and, if passed there, it will go to Gov. Jerry Brown’s office to be ratified.

Compiled by Eu Ran Kwak, Bruin contributor.

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