No, community colleges offering 4-year degrees does not hurt neighboring 4-year campuses
- Research presented this week at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) shows that when community colleges offer baccalaureate degrees, there is no negative impact on nearby four-year institutions. With a focus on Florida, researchers discovered that the impact on degree production was not significant for these schools, but found there was negative impact on for-profit institutions, which saw degree production decrease with the community college expansion.
- Many of the four-year public institutions saw degree production increases following the growth of community college baccalaureate programs with similar offerings. But private schools did not see the same gains, likely due to the differences in cost, the researchers hypothesized.
- As of 2014, Florida was one of 23 states to allow community colleges to offer baccalaureate degrees, with 24 campuses across the state offering at least one program.
The news would seem to be positive for public four-year institutions facing growing investments from state and federal government into the workforce training programs of two-year schools. And because the data show more harm to for-profit schools than nonprofit institutions, many college leaders would look at the expansion of two-year access as a double positive in the higher education space.
Both school types should look to leverage connections in degree access and industrial development to create pipelines where neither campus type is competing with another. In many programs, there are many opportunities for transfer, credentialing and articulation agreements whereby states can yield tax revenue and job filling benefits from the schools working together, instead of competing for a shrinking student pool.