Community colleges dispensing bachelor’s degrees? It could happen in Virginia, eventually.
State Sen. Barbara Favola (D-31st) is patroning legislation that would have the State Council for Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) study the feasibility of expanding the degree-granting authority of community colleges across the commonwealth, especially in subject areas that are seen in most need and in parts of the commonwealth that are not served by four-year institutions.
“If community colleges were able to grant baccalaureate degrees, it would improve access to education, reducing travel and costs for adult workers, first-generation college students and other under-served groups,” says the resolution, which has been sent to the Senate Rules Committee for action.
The proposal cites Gov. McDonnell’s efforts to confer 100,000 additional undergraduate degrees on Virginia students in next 15 years. If adopted by the General Assembly, SCHEV would have until Dec. 1 to report back to legislators with findings and recommendations.
Virginia’s community-college system, established in the 1960s, now comprises 23 different colleges with 40 campuses across the commonwealth. Nearly 300,000 people are enrolled in degree programs at the community colleges, representing 60 percent of all students enrolled in public undergraduate college or university programs in the Old Dominion.