New bill could allow more B.A.’s at BC

Zach Sullivan, Reporter

Bakersfield College is one of 13 community colleges in California that offer a bachelor’s degree to students, and if Senate Bill 769, which was proposed to the California Senate last month, is approved, it would allow BC to offer bachelor’s degrees in multiple fields, said Matthew Garrett, a history professor at BC.

According to Garrett, the requirements for the pilot programs currently in place are that schools create original degrees that do not duplicate existing degrees offered at any CSU or UC school, and that the degrees must have workforce needs.

Bakersfield College currently offers a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Automation, which according to the California Community Colleges Chancellors Office, “responds to today’s industry needs for engineering teams involved in developing new products or systems.”

Garrett explained that if the bill is approved, it will amend the state education code to expand the existing four-year degree pilot program from 13 to 30 schools, eliminate the pilot program restriction of one bachelor program per school as well as lessen the nonduplication requirement from statewide to just 100 miles and extend the existing and future bachelor pilot programs indefinitely.

Garrett believes enabling community colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees will help solve the issue of affordable education.

“Besides it being just very cool that BC will likely get to offer degrees, there is an equity and access issue at the heart of the discussion,” he said. “Many students cannot afford UC or CSUs. And if a student does not get into their local school, it is even more expensive to relocate and attend at a distant location away from family. If you attend CSUB, it will cost you about $6,850/year in tuition and fees, but the same 30 units of upper division courses at BC would cost $3,916 (regular $46/unit fee plus an additional $84/unit upper division fee equals $130/unit). “Also, there are only 10 UCs and 23 CSUs compared to 113 community colleges, making education affordable and accessible to all.” Garrett believes that in the near future, BC will be offering numerous four-year degrees.

“If I were a betting man I’d say that in five years BC will have a handful of baccalaureate degrees in industrial automation, cyber security, some sort of liberal arts for teaching degree, and a few other unique degrees,” he said. Garrett claims faculty at BC are anticipating SB 769 being approved and are extremely excited about the opportunity to offer more bachelor’s degrees to students on campus.”