As concern about the higher cost of a four year college degree and the tsunami of student loan debt which is threatening to strangle the U.S. economy, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board is expanding its innovative 'Texas Affordable Baccalaureate Program' as a way to fight that trend, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
"You should get credit for course work when you master the material, not when you complete a prescribed amount of time of sitting in class," Commissioner Reymund Paredes said.
The standard model of awarding degrees based on 'hours' of course work completed has been under examination for several years. Many say it has been outmoded for decades, especially as students more and more are not in college to learn abstract concepts like philosophy or rhetoric, which was the standard when the current model of determining qualifications for graduation in the 19th Century.
Now that students are more likely to attend college to gain proficiency in a skill, from accounting to engineering to tech, Paredes and others are pushing a new model that will award diplomas based on the student's proven mastery of the skill, and not simply for sitting in class for four years.
"These are the kinds of programs that meet the needs of the ever changing global economy, while providing greater opportunity and prosperity for Texas," he said.
The Texas Affordable Baccalaureate Initiative is already in place at a handful of Texas colleges, where administrators and employers of the graduates agree it has been successful in both producing the skilled graduates needed for a wide variety of workforce jobs, but also in holding down college costs.
Paredes says the goal is to take into consideration skills and experience students have gained from the military, from technical and community colleges, even from jobs they may have held.
"Our goal is to get to the point where a minimum of ten institutions of Texas offer these low cost, high quality programs," he said.