It is a done deal. The Sweetwater Union High School District and Alliant International University finalized a partnership that, for the first time, brings a four-year university to the South Bay.
Sweetwater Union High School Superintendent Dr. Ed Brand, and Alliant International University President Dr. Geoffrey Cox signed a memorandum of understanding on July 18 that will allow the private university to offer undergraduate degree programs in business, psychology, child development and criminal justice to students in the Sweetwater District.
Brand said the need for a four-year university in the South Bay was long overdue.
“We’ve for a long time seen not only a need, but a necessity to have a university that we call home,” Brand said.
“With over 70,000 seven-through-12 and adult-ed learners in the district, every single one of them has to leave our community to go to a four-year institution.”
The partnership called Alliant International at Sweetwater will be located at the National City Adult School at 517 Mile of Cars Way.
Adult education programs will continue to be offered at the adult school.
The university will give 12th- grade college-ready students the option to take lower division courses while still attending high school.
Sweetwater District’s 11th- and 12th-grade students will have access to the university’s early college program, which gives students the opportunity to complete college-level courses and receive transferable credits to community colleges and other four-year universities.
This isn’t the first time the district has created a pathway for its students to seek a four-year institution.
In 2000, the school district and San Diego State University partnered to create Compact for Success, a program that guaranteed admission to San Diego State for district students fulfilling certain requirements.
Sweetwater Union High School District board member John McCann said the partnership with Alliant would encourage more students from the district to attend college.
“This is going to increase access and opportunity for our students,” McCann said. “When you’re looking at the number of students we’re sending to San Diego State through the Compact for Success, we want to see even more of our graduates be able to take advantage of going to college.”
Although it is a satellite campus, Alliant International at Sweetwater becomes the first four-year university in the South Bay. The city of Chula Vista has plans to bring another four-year institution to the South Bay with its Chula Vista University project.
Chula Vista officials have been publicizing their proposed university project as the first in the South Bay, but Alliant at Sweetwater beat them to the punch.
Chula Vista Councilwoman Pamela Bensoussan said Alliant International at Sweetwater has not debunked any plans to bring the potential Chula Vista University to the South Bay.
“I don’t see them as impacting our university,” she said. “Chula Vista University will be a way bigger endeavor and from my understanding, Alliant is more targeted for certain trades or specialties.”
Bensoussan said graduate courses would be offered at the proposed Chula Vista University which are not offered at Alliant at Sweetwater.
Bensoussan added: “It is great to have as many educational opportunities as possible in the South Bay.”
Cox said Alliant at Sweetwater gives students the ability to live life in the South Bay while pursuing a degree.
“We do recognize that higher education is not going to change the way it delivers its services to be more relevant, to be more accessible, to be more affordable,” Cox said.
“So this experiment with Sweetwater is exactly that. Rather than have students travel the 30 miles up to our main campus and disrupt lives in order to take advantage of higher education, we’re going to come here.”
The Sweetwater board of trustees approved the partnership at a May school board meeting.
Alliant International Unversity classes begin Aug. 26.