Legislation could let community colleges offer four-year degrees
Community colleges in Michigan may soon have another tool for attracting students and competing with larger universities.
A bill allowing Michigan community colleges to offer four-year bachelor’s degrees is being reviewed by the Senate’s Committee on Education, after passing through the House June 23.
Degree programs included in the bill are energy production, concrete technology, maritime technology, culinary arts and nursing.
Matt Miller, public relations director for Mid Michigan Community College said this could be a positive change for community colleges.
“Some of the degrees are not offered by any of the universities in the state,“ Miller said. “Some of the community colleges do offer associate degrees in a couple of these areas, but in order to get their bachelor’s they have to go someplace else, so it would be helpful to our students to have this option.”
There is a big need for nurses with a bachelor of science, and community colleges can help fill that need, Miller said.
If community colleges offer the nursing program, they would most likely have to raise tuition to offset costs because nursing is one of the highest cost programs for colleges to fund, said Mike Boulus, president of the Council of State Universities of Michigan.
MMCC does not have plans to offer any of the possible programs, Miller said.
“If it passes it will have significant applications,” Boulus said. “I am unequivocally opposed — I do not like it at all.”
The relationship between universities and smaller community colleges is supposed to be about collaboration, not duplication, he said.
“All this does is bring unnecessary competition between universities and community colleges,” Boulus said. “All 15 public universities and the smaller private colleges are united against this bill.”
Central Michigan University is among the universities that does not support the legislation, said Kathy Wilbur, vice president of Development and External Relations.
She said the university has not had discussions about what it will do, if anything, if the legislation is signed into law. Wilbur said CMU has spoken with Gov. Rick Snyder’s office about CMU’s issues with the legislation.
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