tampabay.com

More schools can offer 4-year degrees

Nursing and education will be among the community college offerings.

By SHANNON COLAVECCHIO- VAN SICKLER
Published January 19, 2007


The state Board of Education and the Board of Governors announced an agreement Thursday that allows community colleges to establish four-year degree programs in three areas: nursing, teacher education and workforce-related applied sciences such as fire management or construction management.

The agreement ends a long-running debate and related lawsuit, and comes as the Board of Governors considers a consultant's report that says community colleges should play a greater role in educating Florida's undergraduates.

Under the plan, which takes effect this month, community colleges can start new degree programs in the three designated areas.

Florida's existing 2+2 system has long provided students who earn associate's degrees a chance to finish their education in one of the 11 four-year universities.

But as universities grow more crowded, there is debate about how much of a role community colleges should play in undergraduate education.

Several community colleges, including St. Petersburg College, offer bachelor's programs, but the compromise opens the door to a significant expansion.

The Board of Education still must approve all new community college bachelor's programs.