OLYMPIA – Washington students may soon have more higher-education options. The state House today passed HB 2769, sponsored by Rep. Tana Senn (D-Mercer Island), to create a pilot program for community and technical colleges to offer four-year bachelor’s degrees in high-demand fields like computer science.
The bill would give the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges the authority to select up to five community or technical colleges to offer programs of study leading to bachelor’s degrees on a pilot basis. Currently, community colleges can offer “applied” bachelor’s degrees, which are often treated differently than a regular bachelor’s degree when it comes to applying to graduate schools or accreditation. There are just over 1,000 students enrolled in applied bachelor’s degree programs in the state’s community and technical college system.
A major impetus for this bill is to fix a discrepancy created last year when the Legislature approved a budget appropriation to Bellevue College to develop a bachelor’s of science degree in computer science. However, they were never authorized to do so.
“Washington needs a diverse workforce to fill openings in high-demand fields,” Senn said. “As we invest in a well-educated workforce, let’s make sure students can find an excellent, affordable and community-relevant education close to home.”
HB 2769 was approved by the state House on a 68-29 vote. It now goes to the state Senate for further consideration.