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New bill wants 4-year degrees offered at community colleges
Texas lawmakers might allow 2 year community colleges to offer 4-year bachelor degrees. The programs offered would help fill worker shortages in certain industries.
Andrea Martinez, KENS 4:46 AM. CDT April 11, 2017
SAN ANTONIO - A new bill wants to create more college options for Texas students.
The bill is being debated in Austin and lawmakers are considering allowing two-year community colleges to offer four-year bachelor degrees.
The programs offered to students would help fill worker shortages in certain industries.
Jenessa Tharp, a first-year nursing student at San Antonio College, said that would be very convenient for her.
"An opportunity to stay in my hometown, in my community, where I'm already established and I wouldn't have to move or pick up," Tharp said.
Tharp is just one of the many Texas students starting off their higher education at a two-year college, but now many like her may get to finish there, too.
One of the bills proposed that the programs only be in fields like nursing, technology, and science.
Dr. Bruce Leslie, Chancellor at Alamo colleges said his administration is already looking into some of those, especially nursing.
"We don't have enough nurses nationally just through the universities," Leslie said. "Such a huge demand and we have so many of them retiring now as well. So if community colleges were given the authority to offer a bachelor's in nursing we would help close that gap,"
Leslie said they are also interested in offering management in fire science and sign language. Right now, students have to go out of state to earn 4-year degrees in those fields.
According to a rand corporation study, there are some downfalls to the proposal, such as the threatening of associate degree programs, and increased costs for all students.
The study said this could also lead to counterproductive competition between universities and community colleges.
Leslie said even if the bills were to pass, he doesn't see the programs being implemented for several years.