Students living in southern Kentucky will soon be able to get four-year degrees at Somerset Community College.
Four universities, including Western Kentucky University, plan to offer bachelor’s degrees through the two-year college in Pulaski County.
The school announced the initiative in December, but released which schools are participating on Monday. Three other schools taking part are the University of Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky University, and Morehead State University.
The aim is to increase access for students with work or family obligations who need to remain in the area.
"The one thing missing from the Lake Cumberland region is the option for students to get an affordable bachelor's degree. Now spring graduates in May 2019 will have the option to stay here at home to get a four-year degree at an affordable rate," said Congressman Hal Rogers who helped launch the initiative.
Trent Pool will lead the new program called the University Center of Southern Kentucky. He told WKU Public Radio that the partnership will help prevent the brain drain that occurs when students leave the region.
“A lot of students want that residential experience on a campus and we understand that, 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," explained Pool.
Starting this fall, students will be able to finish bachelor’s degrees at Somerset Community College without having to transfer to one of the participating universities.
The program is modeled after the University Center of the Mountains in Hazard that partners will 11 public and private universities.