Community colleges look to add four-year nursing degrees

Capital News Service
LANSING — Community colleges across the state hope to add nursing to a limited list of four-year degrees they now offer.  
That list includes only culinary, maritime technology, energy technology and cement technology degrees. Expanding that list to include nursing would help meet a growing need, said Mike Hansen, president of the Michigan Community College Association. Hospitals require nurses to have bachelor’s of science in nursing degrees (B.S.N). But community colleges can only offer an associate degree in nursing (A.D.N).

Community colleges can diversify skill sets

Capital News Service
LANSING — Community colleges serve as educational stepping-stones to higher learning institutions and trade schools, creating a gateway for students who want to advance their education, enter the workforce or simply enrich their skills. The trade aspect of a job training program creates an opportunity for students to efficiently become part of the workforce, said Wayne Rodgers, a welding and fabrication professor in the job training program at Grand Rapids Community College. “Everything that we do out there in a manufacturing industry doesn’t take a four-year degree — it takes a specific skill,” said Rodgers. “To have a person take the additional humanities makes them well-rounded, but it keeps them out of the workforce.”

Rodgers estimated about 10 to 15 percent of the students in the non-credit job training program continue onto credit-bearing programs so they can obtain their associate’s degree. Other than that, Rodgers said the heart of community colleges is in technical work.

Fight continues over nursing degrees

Capital News Service
LANSING – A disputed education bill would allow Michigan’s community colleges to compete for the same nursing students who would otherwise enroll at a traditional four-year program in the state. The bill, stalled in the Senate for more than three months, would allow the state’s 28 community colleges to award four-year bachelor of science degrees in nursing, called BSNs. An associate degree in nursing takes two years to complete, but an increasing number of hospitals now require the BSN as an entry-level credential, said Michael Hansen, president of the Michigan Community College Association. The extra two years needed to earn a BSN are primarily classroom-focused in areas such as health policy and leadership. “It puts a lot of burden and pressure on students that maybe live in Alpena, Traverse City or Benton Harbor and don’t have access to a four-year provider and would like to get their BSN at a local community college for a quarter of the cost,” Hansen said.

Community colleges push job training for new workers

Capital News Service
LANSING—Michigan employers can get free job training for their new workers from local community colleges. While Michigan companies are expanding and hiring more workers, many need training for skills. Where can employers find an organization to provide that training? The Michigan Community College Association says: their local community college. Michael Hansen, president of the association, said the New Jobs Training Program uses state income taxes paid by the newly hired workers to repay the community colleges for the cost of training.

Michigan’s community colleges recruited 2,780 international students

Capital News Service
LANSING — A low admission threshold and low costs at community colleges can benefit international students who lack English language proficiency or find tuition at four-year institutions too expensive, experts say. There were 2,780 international students enrolled in Michigan’s 28 community colleges in fall 2013. That’s roughly 1.3 percent of the student population at these colleges, according to the president of the Michigan Community College Association, Michael Hansen.
Diana Schack, an international student advisor at Oakland Community College, said, “We require a really low score” in language proficiency for prospective international students. They only need to get 3 on IELTS (the maximum score is 9) or 25 on the Internet-based TOEFL (the maximum score is 120). IELTS is the International English Language Testing System, and TOEFL stands for Test of English as a Foreign Language.

Community colleges innovate to stay competitive

Capital News Service
LANSING – Community colleges are finding new ways to compete with for-profit colleges to enroll and retain more part-time and working students. Those efforts, including one at Kellogg Community College in Battle Creek, come at a time when community college enrollments are dipping while for-profit enrollments are rising. Over the past year, enrollment at community colleges dropped for the first time in several years, from a high of 260,179 in 2010 to 250,399 now, according to the Michigan Community College Association. However, enrollment in the state’s degree-granting, for-profits rose from 21,185 in 2004 to 30,193 in 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Donald Heller, dean of the Michigan State University College of Education and an expert on higher education policy, said the growth of for-profits like the University of Phoenix and Everest Institute is largely due to their flexibility.

Community colleges adapt to enrollment decline

Capital News Service
LANSING – Enrollments at community colleges nationwide and in Michigan are leveling out following years of significant growth, experts say. Enrollments across the country rose by 21.8 percent from 2007 to 2010, but dropped by 1 percent from 2010 to 2011, according to the American Association of Community Colleges in Washington. Michigan enrollment dropped by 3.75 percent from fall 2010 to fall 2011, according to the Michigan Community College Network. The communications director for Oakland Community College said, “Enrollments at community colleges are what we call counter-cyclical. When an economy goes bad, our enrollments shoot up, and when the economy gets better they tend to level off.”
George Cartsonis said Oakland hit record enrollment last fall at 29,962, a 26 percent increase from 2002.