House Bill 3348 spurs growth of local community colleges

The signing of House Bill 3348 in the 87th Texas Legislature allows local community colleges, such as the College of the Mainland, to offer up to five bachelor’s degree programs with their two-year offerings.

COM is among several local higher education institutions that plan to expand their programming. San Jacinto College and Alvin Community College officials said they are evaluating the colleges’ workforce needs and strategic plans to determine how they will move forward in the future.

four-year degree offerings.

“We believe HB 3348 has given us the opportunity to offer bachelor’s degrees in the future,” said John Tompkins, communications coordinator at Alvin Community College.

The first bachelor’s degree offered by the COM will be in nursing. The first 20 students in the cohort will start this fall and the second cohort will be admitted, provisionally, in the fall 2022 semester, according to the online course catalog.

“We’re a responsive college,” said COM Vice President for Instruction Jerry Fliger. “All of our programs respond directly to the labor needs of our community. »

COM leadership and local lawmakers spoke about the expansion of the program on July 1 inside the new Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics building, which was unveiled on April 30. students today,” adding that community colleges will lead the state toward cost-effective post-pandemic economic recovery.

Bills such as HB 3348 help colleges provide stronger offerings and work toward equal opportunity in post-secondary education, said state Rep. Mayes Middleton, R-Wallisville.

“It’s these types of bills that I think build a better future for Texas,” said Middleton, who was one of the bill’s sponsors.

COM offers the third-lowest tuition in the state for community colleges, President Warren Nichols said at the press conference. Top policymakers review labor market data annually to ensure program offerings allow graduates to enter the job market with skills that will be in demand over the next five to 10 years, said college leaders.

Community college workforce development programs help ensure the next generation of learners stays in the Bay Area, lawmakers and college leaders said. Earning a four-year degree from a private university outside of the Greater Houston Area can lead to the accumulation of significant student debt, making higher education inaccessible for some people.

COM cannot offer another licensing program until at least six months after the start of the first, Fliger said. The college is working with its business and industry partners to develop plans for the other four bachelor’s degree programs.

“We welcome and encourage conversations with our sister universities to enable us to offer our students, whatever their career aspirations, the opportunity to come here. [to COM] to continue that education,” Nichols said.