Lower cost college degrees… Missing the obvious in Arizona?

Arizona Searching for Lower Cost College Degrees

This qualifies as a rant.

The Arizona Republic is today reporting on how the Board of Regents in that state is trying to figure out how to provide lower cost bachelor’s degrees to students by offering them in some way other than through the state’s 3 research universities. “Everything is on the table.”

Options being considered include:

    • Creating a new university in Yuma.
    • Purchasing a community college.
    • Building “several regional state colleges” around the state.
    • Letting the research universities start “university quality” programs in partnerships with muncipalities. (An ASU proposal.)

Lower down in the article is this news:

    • “A network of community colleges offers certificates and two-year degrees; some programs allow students to earn up to three years’ worth of credits before transferring to the universities. Community colleges don’t offer four-year degrees, and efforts to change state law to allow them to do so have been unsuccessful.”

And thus the rant.

Community Colleges Should Offer 4-Year Degrees

Why have efforts to change state law so that community colleges can offer 4-year degrees been unsuccessful?

That’s a simple, low cost way to expand the availabilty of bachelor’s degrees. Other states, including Florida, have taken that route. In New York, some once-upon-a-time 2 year colleges have been 4-year technical colleges for several years now.

If research universities really want to get behind this lower-cost movement, then perhaps ASU and others will lobby in the Arizona legislature in favor of letting community colleges move in this direction. Let some community colleges become “regional state colleges” and create the additional facilities needed. More convenient that people having to live in Yuma. Less expensive than creating new regional colleges.

Many “Community” colleges in today’s world will best serve their communities by expanding to include 4-year degrees that meet community needs. No logical reason exists not to give them that option. 

And as the expansion to 4-year degrees takes place, plan to keep faculty teaching loads similar to those at community colleges. If the faculty don’t have research expectations, then teaching loads can be higher. And instructional costs will be lower. In some cases, much lower.

End of rant.

Thanks to my friends at Academic Impressions for running a blurb on this in their daily news summary.

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