A new survey from Inside Higher Ed shows a divide along institutional lines over the question of whether two-year colleges should offer bachelor’s degrees. About half of the states currently enable those institutions to award the degrees.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, community college and university presidents are deeply divided over the idea. Sixty-eight percent of presidents at public and private four-year institutions did not support the idea of offering bachelor’s degrees at two-year colleges. Seventy-five percent of community college presidents responded in favor of their institutions being able to offer the degrees.

The survey also found that respondents believe the push for free public higher education would be a detriment to their institutions. Additional issues raised in the survey include barriers to transferring from two- to four-year institutions, declining college enrollment, campus finance management and creating a talent pipeline for university leadership.

From Inside Higher Ed:

Two-year college presidents want to offer more bachelor’s degrees because they believe such programs would help close racial, ethnic and economic gaps in degree attainment. But four-year college presidents are skeptical of the idea and have fought against proposals that would increase bachelor’s degree availability at community colleges. They are concerned about the quality of a bachelor’s degree from a community college and see the push as evidence of mission creep.

This is among the key findings of Inside Higher Ed’s 2019 Survey of Community College Presidents, which you can download free here. The fifth annual survey, released today in advance of the annual meeting of the American Association of Community Colleges and conducted by Gallup, is based on responses from 235 two-year college leaders. (Responses to some questions come from a larger pool of 784 respondents to Inside Higher Ed’s Survey of College and University Presidents.)

The community college presidents’ survey also found that many of these leaders believe that the push to make all public higher education free would hurt their institutions. These presidents say they face an increasingly complex set of challenges such as declining enrollment, shrinking budgets and a lack of clear transfer pathways to universities as pressure builds from lawmakers and their communities to improve graduation rates.

Charlee Beasor is the communications & PR manager for the Indiana Chamber. She is also a writer for the Chamber’s award-winning BizVoice magazine and has been with the organization for eight years.