California's community college system is considering a controversial effort to offer four-year degrees, a move designed to boost the number of students who graduate and are more prepared for the workforce.
The change would require legislation authorizing junior colleges to grant baccalaureate degrees. Colleges would also need to seek additional accreditation as baccalaureate-granting institutions. Supporters argue that it would help to address shortages in workforce training and benefit students in rural areas without access to a four-year university.
But critics, including some community college faculty and officials from four-year universities, counter that it would represent a dramatic shift from the traditional mission of the two-year system. They point to the state's 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education, which designated community colleges as open-for-all campuses for career and transfer students. The four-year universities were to focus on research and higher degrees.