IL community colleges make push to offer 4-year degrees - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

IL community colleges make push to offer 4-year degrees

Community colleges in Illinois are looking to offer more than a two year degree for some of its students. 

The Illinois Council of Community College Presidents approved a recommendation advocating the community college system to grant four-year baccalaureate degrees for certain fields, like nursing.

School officials at John A. Logan say this possible change will encourage many students to stay in the southern Illinois area.

“If they want to get a B.S.N., they're having to go other places," Director of College of Relations, Dr. Steve O'Kefee said. "They're having to go Edwardsville or they're having to go to McKendree or other schools to get this and it's difficult for many of them at times."

Nursing students like William Spearman agree.

“I'm new into college and all this transfer stuff is confusing to me," Spearman said. "It's confusing to me and if we could do everything here, that would just be great.”

Some school officials at traditional four year institutions, like SIU Carbondale, say this possible new change could raise quite a few questions.

“Would we be competing in our programs? Would the funding of the state be enough to allow community colleges to expand their mission," SIU Communications Officer, Rae Goldsmith asked. 

"There are a lot of outstanding questions, you know the goal is to always work in partnership rather than in competition," Goldsmith said.

School officials at John. A. Logan did state the funding would more than likely be tuition and fee driven, and not from the Illinois Community college board.

“They don't want to take away from funding that's already going towards traditional community college programs," Dr. O'Keefe said. He said this is only a thought and no final decisions have been made in terms of funding.

Nursing students say this change will allow more time to adjust to the college life.

“I still am getting used to college and just how everything is," nursing student, JaNai Miller said. "You know it's a little challenging because you're like wow, I'm so used to this and now I have to get used to that college.”

Dr. O'Keefe said programs like nursing are not designed to compete with universities.

"They're designed to give our students more opportunities and more flexibility," he said

If the proposal is passed, Illinois will be the 22nd state where community colleges offer four-year degrees. 

These applied baccalaureate degrees would cover fields such as automotive, respiratory therapy and dental hygiene. 

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