Students living in southern Kentucky will soon be able to get four-year degrees at Somerset Community College.
The school announced a new initiative on Monday that will allow students in the Lake Cumberland region to earn bachelor’s degrees through partnerships with several universities. The aim is to increase access for students with work or family obligations who need to remain close to home. The nearest four-year university is Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, about an hour away.
SCC President Dr. Carey Castle says the program is modeled after the University Center of the Mountains in Hazard that partners will 11 public and private universities.
"I'd love to say this is an original idea and we're brilliant because we came up with it, but the reality is, we're going to take what we know works and apply it to this area too," Castle told WKU Public Radio.
Trent Pool will lead the new program, called the University Center of Southern Kentucky. He says besdies increasing access to higher degrees, one of the other goals is to prevent the brain drain that occurs when students leave the region.
"Let's be honest. A lot of students want that residential experience on a campus and we understand that," stated Pool. "But when that happens, a lot of times they end up getting jobs in those other areas and we don't see them obtain those degrees and come back to us."
Somerset Community College will begin offering four-year degrees next fall, though the school hasn’t announced yet what universities will be participating.
SCC currently offers two-year associate’s degrees, as well as certificates and diplomas. It has satellite campuses in London, Albany, Liberty, Russell Springs, and Whitley City.