Friday, 24 May 2024

New bill would simplify transfer process between community colleges, state universities

SACRAMENTO – The California Community Colleges and California State University have worked together to create what is considered to be one of the most significant pieces of legislation for California students, which goes to the state's Senate Education Committee on Wednesday.

Senate Bill 1440, authored by state Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), will simplify the transfer process between the two systems, increase efficiency and generate approximately $160 million annually in cost savings.

The savings would in turn provide access to roughly 40,000 additional community college students and nearly 14,000 California State University students annually for the same amount of money allocated in each system’s respective budget, according to the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office.

The bill will go before the California Senate Education Committee beginning at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.

The proposed bill, for the first time in California history, promises community college students a clear pathway for transfer, state education officials reported. When they complete an associate degree they are guaranteed admission to the California State University system at junior status.

“The need to widen the transfer pipeline is essential as many jobs in today’s economy require either an associate or bachelor’s degree,” said Sen. Padilla. “Complexities of the current transfer process between the two systems are causing a bottleneck. This initiative will help break the cycle and increase graduation rates. It is a brilliant idea and I’m excited to be carrying this bill.”

According to a report from the California Legislative Analyst’s Office, community college students transferring to a California State University graduated with an average of 162 units when the minimum requirement is 120 units.

A new study by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office finds roughly 50,000 community college students transfer annually to the California State University system. They do so with an average of 80 semester units when only 60 semester units are required.

Similarly, when these students arrive at the California State University, they take excess units to make up for courses that did not transfer from their community college.

“I came to California from Florida 13 years ago,” said California State University Chancellor Charles Reed. “One of my goals when I came here was to make the process of transfer from community colleges to the universities as simple as it was in Florida. The Florida transfer system is called the perfect 2+2 system. Up until now I have not been successful but I’m optimistic that now is the time transfer reform will pass in California. Chancellor Scott and I have talked about this for the last 10 years.”

In education reform states such as Oregon and Florida, transfer is made seamless. Enactment of transfer reform legislation in Florida resulted in students completing their bachelor’s degree with only 138 units.

California students and taxpayers can benefit from transfer reform, education officials reported, because many transfer students take up to a full year of classes beyond the semester units required for a bachelor’s degree. These extra units cost the public millions of dollars each year.

“Students attending our colleges often express concerns about the complex and confusing transfer process,” said the California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott. “This transfer initiative will put an end to the confusion and serve as a student passport to the California State University system.

“The reform measure will provide great savings for students in that it will save them time and money. It will provide great savings for the state in that we can educate more students for the same amount of money. This is a nationwide imperative. We have got to produce more college graduates by 2020 as part of President Obama’s goal to make the United States the most educated workforce in the world once again,” Scott stated.

Community colleges have experienced a surge in enrollment during this economic recession. More students understand the reality of the job market and the need to secure a college degree.

Senate Bill 1440 recognizes the considerable work a student has completed when preparing to transfer to a four-year college or university and allows community colleges to grant an associate degree for transfer in the student’s field of study.

Preparing students to transfer to a four-year university is a core mission of the California Community Colleges. The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) projects the state will face a shortage of a million bachelor’s degree holders for the workforce by 2025.

PPIC also states that, in conjunction with gradually increasing college attendance rates and California State University graduation rates, increasing transfer rates by 20 percent in the next 15 years will close that one million degree gap dramatically.

“Based upon projections made by the Public Policy Institute of California, Senate Bill 1440 will put California on the right path to begin meeting our state’s need,” said The Campaign for College Opportunity Executive Director Michele Siqueiros.

The California Community Colleges is the largest system of higher education in the nation composed of 72 districts and 112 colleges serving 2.9 million students per year. Community colleges supply workforce training and basic skills education and prepare students for transfer to four-year institutions.

The Chancellor’s Office provides leadership, advocacy and support under the direction of the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges.

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