SIU president calls bill for nursing program expansions a ‘bad policy idea’
Public universities in Illinois could face increased competition for students pursuing nursing degrees if new legislation goes into effect.
An Illinois Senate committee on Tuesday approved a bill that would allow community colleges in the state to offer bachelor’s degrees in nursing, a move leaders of public universities strongly condemned. The bill was scheduled for a second reading on the Senate floor Wednesday.
The bill would amend the Public Community College Act to allow for community colleges to offer four-year bachelor’s degrees in nursing education.
On Tuesday, SIU President Randy Dunn testified in front of the Senate’s higher education committee to oppose the bill. In a previous interview, Dunn said he was asked to testify on behalf of the state’s nine public universities.
During his testimony, Dunn said the addition of more nursing programs throughout the state would be duplicative, arguing that 35 institutions already offer such programs, the Champaign News-Gazette reported.
The bill would allow up to 20 institutions to approve nursing programs until fall 2022.
John Charles, SIU’s director of government and public affairs, said he is unsure what colleges are interested in the bill.
When asked about the bill, John A. Logan College spokesman Steve O’Keefe said the community college in Carterville had no comment.
New programs created through this bill would require approval from the Illinois Board of Higher Education and the Illinois Community College Board, which would conduct a statewide evaluation of the programs and report on the results by July 1, 2022, according to the legislation.
During a recent interview, Dunn called the bill the most worrisome one that went in front of the Senate’s higher education committee on Tuesday. He said it is not appropriate for community colleges to “move into this area.”
“It goes against what the community college system in Illinois was created to do,” Dunn said. “This is a bad policy idea for the state of Illinois.”
Dunn said SIU-Edwardsville’s nursing program trains hundreds of nurses each year. The university has an affiliate nursing program at the Carbondale campus.
In the fall, SIUE’s nursing program enrolled 1,371 undergraduates, according to a news release on 10-day enrollment figures. SIUC recorded 63 pre-nursing students during the same semester, according to university data.