HIGHER EDUCATION House Bill 3348 spurs growth at local community colleges
2 0 2 1 P U B L I C E D U C A T I O N E D I T I O N
Alvin Community College, College of the Mainland and San Jacinto College plan to expand baccalaureate degree oerings in the coming years after the passage of House Bill 3348, which allows them to oer up to ve bachelor’s degree programs. NEWHORIZONS
ALVIN COMMUNITY COLLEGE
BY COLLEEN FERGUSON
recovery at an ecient cost. Bills such as HB 3348 help colleges provide more robust oerings and work toward having equality of opportunity in postsecondary education, said state Rep. Mayes Middleton, RWallisville. “It’s these kinds of bills that I think build a better future for Texas,” said Middleton, who was a bill sponsor. COM oers the third-lowest tuition in the state for community colleges, President Warren Nichols said. Key decision-makers review labor market data each year to ensure program oerings empower graduates to enter the workforce with skills that will be in demand, college leaders said. Community colleges’ workforce development programs help ensure learners remain in the Bay Area, lawmakers and college leaders said. Earning a four-year degree at a private university outside the Greater Houston area can result in the accu- mulation of signicant student debt, making higher education unattain- able for some. COM cannot oer another bache- lor’s program until at least six months after the rst one begins, Fliger said. The college is working with its partners to develop plans for the other four bachelor’s programs. “We welcome and encourage the conversations with our sister univer- sities to let us provide the opportu- nity for our students, regardless of what their career aspirations are, to come here [to COM] to continue that education,” Nichols said.
• Expanded agreement with University of Houston-Clear Lake at Pearland in 2021 to streamline the process from two-year registered nurse degree at ACC degree to four-year BSN at UHCL • In addition to its associate degree programs, the college oers three types of certicates: programs less than one year, one-year programs and enhanced skills programs. • College ocials are evaluating the possibility of oering four-year degrees as part of the upcoming ve-year strategic plan, which is in development. “We feel that HB 3348 has given us an opportunity to oer bachelor’s degrees in the future.” JOHN TOMPKINS, COMMUNICATIONS COORDINATOR AT ALVIN COMMUNITY COLLEGE
The signing of House Bill 3348 into law during the 87th Texas Legislature allows for local community colleges, such as College of the Mainland, to oer up to ve bachelor’s degree pro- grams with their two-year oerings. COM is among several local colleges planning to expand program- ming. Ocials at San Jacinto College and Alvin Community College said they are assessing workforce needs and strategic plans to determine how they will move forward with future four-year degree oerings. “We feel that HB 3348 has given us an opportunity to oer bachelor’s degrees in the future,” said John Tompkins, communications coordi- nator at Alvin Community College. The rst baccalaureate degree COM is oering will be in nursing. The rst 20 students in the cohort will begin this fall, and the second cohort will be admitted, tentatively, in the fall 2022 semester. “We are a responsive college,” COM Vice President for Instruction Jerry Fliger said. “All of our programs directly serve the workforce needs of our community.” COM leadership and local lawmak- ers spoke about the program expan- sions July 1 inside of the new science, technology, engineering, arts and math building, which was unveiled April 30. State Sen. Larry Taylor, RFriendswood, called HB 3348 “a godsend for students today,” adding community colleges will lead the state into post-pandemic economic
COLLEGE OF THEMAINLAND
• Will welcome rst BSN cohort in fall 2021 • Plans are being developed for four more bachelor’s degree programs. • The college can begin oering additional four-year programs a minimum of six months after the rst one begins. “We are a responsive college. … All of our programs directly serve the workforce needs of our community.” JERRY FLIGER, COLLEGE OF THE MAINLAND’S VICE PRESIDENT FOR INSTRUCTION
SAN JACINTO COLLEGE
• Began oering a Bachelor of Science in nursing program in fall 2020 • Oering a BSN was made possible during the 85th legislative session through the passage of Senate Bill 2118, which revised and expanded requirements for a junior college seeking to oer four-year degree programs. • The bill set out further requirements specically applicable to a junior college seeking to oer a BSN program. “We are looking at additional bachelor programs that will mainly be workforce driven, so we are working with industry [partners] to identify what those programs are.” AMANDA FENWICK, VICE PRESIDENT OF MARKETING AND PUBLIC RELATIONS AT SAN JACINTO COLLEGE
SOURCES: ALVIN COMMUNITY COLLEGE, COLLEGE OF THE MAINLAND, SAN JACINTO COLLEGE, TEXAS LEGISLATURECOMMUNITY IMPACT NEWSPAPER
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