10:20am | Officials with the California State University system and, locally, Cal State Long Beach celebrated the passage of several bills this week that they say will cut costs, make it easier for students to transfer to four-year colleges and allow the schools to offer new Doctorate programs.
“History should never dictate the educational needs of today," said CSULB President F. King Alexander, "And with the signing of these three bills, the state legislature is not only making it easier for California’s students to get a bachelor’s degree, it is also allowing the CSU system to go beyond the California Master Plan to offer vital doctorate degrees that will have a significant impact on the future healthcare needs of this state.”
Governor Schwarzenegger signed Senate Bill 1440 on Wednesday, and on Tuesday signed both Assembly Bill 867 and AB 2382.
The first, SB 1440 or the Student Transfer Achievement Reform Act (STAR Act), simplifies the process for community college students to transfer to four-year universities. Upon earning 60 completed units, community college students will earn their Associate of Arts (A.A.) Degree and be eligible to transfer to CSU universities with junior standing. The new guidelines also eliminate excess, unnecessary units often accumulated by community college students by clearly defining and highlighting the path needed to obtain the A.A. The new program will take effect in Fall 2011 and could save millions of dollars to students statewide who no longer take classes they will not need to transfer.
“I would like to commend the Governor, the legislature, Senator Alex Padilla, Assemblymember Paul Fong, Chancellor Jack Scott and the many people whose hard work over the past 12 years helped us arrive at this historic day,” said CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed. “This is a watershed moment for future college students across the state of California, who will now be able to more easily reach their goal of attaining a bachelor's degree.”
The Assembly Bills also approved this week will allow the CSU system to offer two new Doctorate programs, in Nursing Practice (AB867) and Physical Therapy (AB2382), which were previously not available. The Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) will train faculty to teach in the CSU system, allowing more classes to be created and more students to study the practice. The CSU system already graduates 65-percent of California's nurses and extra classrooms could permit more students, eventually easing the state's current nursing shortage.
Similarly, the Physical Therapy bill (AB2382) will allow the CSU to increase the number of students that it sends to the profession (currently one-third of the state's physical therapy graduates come from the system). However, and perhaps more importantly, it will help CSU students more in the long run. Physical therapists can only become licensed after completing a degree from an accredited program. Beginning in 2015, the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE) will grant accreditation only to programs offering doctorate degrees. By equipping CSULB and other schools with the program now, the bill ensures that the Physical Therapy program will be accredited when the new rules take hold, helping today's students adhere to the standards to become tomorrow's physical therapists.