New law will allow Oregon community colleges to offer four-year degrees

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(Luke Reynolds/For The Broadside)

Just as many were celebrating the turn of a new decade on Jan. 1, a new bill pertaining to Oregon community colleges was put into effect. Senate Bill 3 lets Oregon community colleges offer more than just two year associate degrees, but four year baccalaureate degrees as well.

“A four year degree would be nice because I wouldn’t have to worry about transferring anywhere else” said COCC student Trevor Gorremans, 21, when asked about the advantages of the new law.

Gorremans feels that having more education options at Central Oregon Community College like four year degree programs would also make college feel like “less of a risk” compared to completing degree programs at a university or other institution, because of the affordability of community college.

“I would use the four year degree option, since its cheaper than anywhere else” he said, expressing his frustrations with colleges as tuition prices continue to rise all over the country.

While the new bill sounds promising, much work needs to be done to set up the infrastructure for four year degrees at COCC. Each new degree must be distinct from what other universities across the state provide and must go through a strict approval process to be accepted at the college.

This would include hiring new faculty, and creating the methods in which the program will be taught. Because of this, programs that meet the workforce demands of the surrounding area will be prioritized.

Some of the faculty expressed similar thoughts about the new law.

“Why would we go down a four year degree path when we can’t do a two year degree path right?” said Peter Casey, an instructor in the CIS department.

Casey believes that COCC needs to focus on the programs the college currently provides instead of spreading itself so thin.

In conjunction to the pressure OSU Cascades imposes on COCC with its unique degree pathways, Casey doesn’t think four year degree options are viable at the college right now.

“We should offer programs where we know students will get jobs” he said.

Casey thinks the COCC needs to get more substantial data before making any major decisions with its curriculum.

For example, the percentage of people who get jobs in their degree pathway after graduating or leaving COCC would be very beneficial to what the school needs to focus on.

Of course, any substantial decision at COCC to add new four year programs will be awhile away due to the law’s recent enactment. If the interest is there, students may expect to receive a bachelor’s degree at COCC in the future.

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