December 14, 2012
Legislation permitting Michigan community colleges to grant bachelor’s degrees in selected fields was passed by the Michigan Legislature last night and awaits the governor’s signature.
HB4496 allows the state’s 28 community colleges to offer baccalaureate degrees in cement technology, maritime technology, energy production technology and culinary arts – fields in which there is high demand but insufficient university programming to meet the needs of the labor market. A fifth program area, registered nursing, was dropped from the legislation
Oakland Community College (OCC) does not intend to offer BA programs in the immediate future according to OCC Chancellor Timothy R. Meyer. “In Oakland County we are a ‘university-rich’ environment with excellent nearby institutions like The University of Michigan, Oakland University, Wayne State University, Walsh College and Baker College that enable our graduates to fulfill their advanced educational needs,” he says. “Nevertheless, this legislation is critical in helping some community colleges meet the demands of the labor market – particularly in more rural areas where there are no educational opportunities nearby.”
The issue of community colleges offering high-demand bachelor degrees in nursing may be revisited in the future Meyer notes. “With nearly 500 students registered in our various nursing tracks, OCC maintains the largest nursing program in Michigan. Furthermore, all of our graduates pass the nursing licensure exams at a rate of 90-plus percent or better, and find immediate employment in the field. But we are about at capacity at the present, and finding additional space and qualified facility would be difficult,” Meyer says.
At present, 21 other states permit community colleges to offer four-year degrees, and legislation is currently pending in a number of others.