- Technical colleges in South Carolina can offer a four-year degree in advanced manufacturing after the state's General Assembly passed legislation paving the way for the option and Gov. Henry McMaster signed it into law last month, the Greenville Journal reported.
- The effort was led by Greenville Technical College, which wants to offer a four-year program in manufacturing technology. The program still must be approved by the South Carolina Technical College System board, the state Commission on Higher Education, and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
- College officials say they can't effectively offer students the theoretical information and the technical, hands-on experience required to effectively learn advanced manufacturing in just two years, making an applied bachelor's degree an attractive option. Technical colleges in the state previously were not able to offer more than an associate degree.
As demand for skilled labor in the workforce increases, two-year institutions are responding by bolstering their technical and vocational offerings.
In Ohio, Clark State Community College recently began offering an applied bachelor's degree program in manufacturing technology. The college's proposal was initially rejected because the proposed program too closely resembled those of local four-year institutions. A commitment from local employers to enroll more than 100 students helped build favor for the program.
A report from The Pew Charitable Trusts' Stateline publication notes that several other community colleges in Ohio are offering or plan to offer four-year degrees, and that four-year institutions are concerned about the competition.
Meanwhile, a state report in California cautions officials to exercise caution in expanding the bachelor’s degree pilot program there. It suggests two-year schools could benefit from collaborating with four-year institutions, rather than competing against them.
The American Educational Research Association, meanwhile, recently reported there is no negative impact on four-year colleges in the region when two-year schools expand their programs. The report looked specifically at institutions in Florida. Researchers found the programs did decrease participation in for-profit universities, however.