HECB Deputy Director Jan Ignash told the News Tribune in an article published today that SSB 5442, which Governor Gregoire signed on Monday, will encourage public four-year institutions to create more pathways for academically qualified students to graduate in three years, rather than the usual four.
That will help institutions free up space for new students at a time when baccalaureate institutions are about 11 percent over enrolled, and community and technical colleges are about 16 percent over enrolled, Ignash said.
The bill encourages public four-year institutions to develop baccalaureate degree programs that can be completed in three years without going to summer school or taking more than a normal course load. Such programs must allow qualified students to begin course work within their academic field during their first term of enrollment.
Supporters of the bill believe it will help qualified students enter the job market sooner by completing their baccalaureate degrees in three years. The legislation does not set a new three-year standard for all students.
Some public and private institutions already offer accelerated programs. Typically, a student must have earned college credits while in high school—through such programs as Advanced Placement or Running Start—to finish on an accelerated timetable.