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College of the Canyons OK’d for extension pilot program

Local college is one of six to receive authorization from state

Posted: October 15, 2013 9:31 p.m.
Updated: October 15, 2013 9:31 p.m.
 



College of the Canyons is one of six community colleges authorized to launch a pilot program to expand course offerings and potentially charge higher fees for classes.

(Gov. Jerry Brown) has signed Assembly Bill 955, which allows six community colleges — COC, Crafton Hills College, Long Beach City College, Oxnard College, Pasadena City College and Solano Community College — to offer extension programs for credit.

Extension programs allow classes offered at other educational institutions to also be offered at community colleges, said college spokesman Eric Harnish.

“They’re the same academic quality, oftentimes the same instructors that you would have if you were taking the classes on (a university) campus, but they’re offered here on our campus instead,” he said Tuesday.

One of the more controversial aspects of the bill is that it allows colleges in the pilot program to charge class fees that are more closely related to enrollment costs, which may result in costs above the typical $46 a unit.

Harnish said even with the additional cost, the potential for additional course offerings would be a help, not a hindrance, to students graduating.

“I think we’ve already experienced a system in which some people are able to graduate and some are not, and students are paying in time,” he said. “And they’re being held back in accomplishing their educational goals because they can’t get the classes they need.”

The bill allows COC to supplement its course offerings during the summer and winter, Harnish said, adding that COC has the freedom to decide what courses it offers.

Harnish said the college has been involved in talks about the pilot program for the past several years.

“It’s something that we’ve maintained our involvement in because we see tremendous benefits in this concept for our students, especially given the cuts we’ve absorbed,” he said.

“We are still going to be offering the summer and winter sessions that people count on us for, and classes will still be offered at $46 per unit,” he said.

Because of the way the bill is written, COC will not be able to begin the pilot program until 2015 at the earliest, Harnish said. This is because colleges need to have reached their enrollment targets for two consecutive years to participate, and COC narrowly missed its mark last year.

“People should understand that AB 955 is a small-scale pilot project and that, when it comes here at COC, there’s not going to be a noticeable difference in the summer and winter offerings for the next couple of years,” Harnish said.

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