Four-year community colleges are a bad idea and a risk of taxpayer money, according to a consultant hired by a major for-profit university.
Karen Glennon said her study of four-year institutions in other states shows that expanding the role of two-year community colleges here could lower the quality of education while boosting the costs to county taxpayers who bear much of the cost. Her report, released Tuesday, also questioned the need for four-year programs, saying that it duplicates much of what already occurs.
Glennon’s report was prepared for the University of Phoenix, whose lobbyist worked with the state’s three public universities to block prior legislative efforts to let community colleges offer even a limited number of four-year degrees.
And Cochise College President Karen Nicodemus said it appears the study was designed to "take solutions off the table’’ to unanswered questions of access to and cost of baccalaureate degrees.
The report comes amid renewed efforts by Rep. Laura Knaperek, R-Tempe, to expand the role of community colleges at least a bit: It would permit four-year degrees in fire science, nursing, law enforcement and teaching. Knaperek said the spiraling cost of tuition at state universities is putting baccalaureate degrees out of reach of many Arizonans.
Glennon, a former legislative and gubernatorial staffer, said the Florida Legislature had to appropriate ever higher sums as community colleges in that state began offering four-year degrees.
But Sen. Linda Gray, RGlendale, said that’s not a valid comparison.