New courses and degree program a possibility for BC

Graham C Wheat, Contributing writer


Bakersfield College may be getting a new section of courses and a new degree program, although nothing is set in stone yet.

Recent legislation in Sacramento to offer 4-year baccalaureate degree programs at community colleges is a historic legislation, says a press release from the California Community College Chancellor’s office.

Although the push is finally clearing the bureaucratic red tape, the programs aren’t up and running just yet.

The initiative is to be a pilot program that would establish the services in 15 college districts that would implement said degree path no later than 2017-2018, so don’t expect to see the new programs any time in the immediate future.

The Legislative Analysts Office will evaluate the pilot program for some years until 2022 to see the over-arching impacts of the program and end that program the same year unless extended by legislation.

California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice W. Harris said in a statement, “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 enable them to obtain well-paying jobs.”

The Senate Bill, SB 850, would authorize two-year colleges to offer 4-year courses for the most in-demand careers in the area’s workforce.

The courses themselves would offer a cheaper alternative to the tuition at a UC or CSU. The chancellor’s press release stated that units would only be $84 more than current unit prices for lower-division courses.

At Bakersfield College, it has been articulated that the push for the four–year degree is in the nursing field. BC public relations director Amber Chiang has expressed that numerous organizations in the health community have expressed interest and that students in the Allied Health programs are interested in the programs as well.

So, while there is interest statewide and locally to see the programs come to fruition, they are not up and running yet and no schools have been chosen to reap the benefits of new bill.