Col­leges un­veil trans­fer agree­ment

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - AZ­IZA MUSA

Univer­sity of Arkansas-Pu­laski Tech­ni­cal Col­lege stu­dents want­ing to trans­fer to the univer­sity down the road will have a “seam­less” and “fool­proof” time do­ing so, the col­lege’s chan­cel­lor said Thurs­day.

The col­lege and the Univer­sity of Arkansas at Lit­tle Rock un­veiled a re­designed pro­gram Thurs­day that its lead­ers said will ease trans­fers for stu­dents, re­duce costs for stu­dents and in­crease the state’s col­lege grad­u­ates. The pro­gram is called a “2+2” agree­ment, one used by many col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties to al­low stu­dents to earn an as­so­ciate’s de­gree at a com­mu­nity col­lege and trans­fer into a four-year univer­sity to com­plete a bach­e­lor’s de­gree.

Pu­laski Tech and UALR have had at least 15 sim­i­lar pro­grams in the past, said col­lege chan­cel­lor Mar­garet El­libee. But not to this de­gree, UALR Chan­cel­lor An­drew Roger­son said.

“Well, we haven’t had that many ar­tic­u­la­tion agree­ments, so that’s the main dif­fer­ence here,” Roger­son said. “So, of course, we have tra­di­tion­ally taken a lot of stu­dents from Pu­laski Tech who trans­fer in, but less than 1 per­cent of them are com­ing with an as­so­ciate de­gree and a lot of them are com­ing with cred­its they don’t need.

“So we wanted to do some­thing about that be­cause that’s not very ef­fi­cient and it’s not very af­ford­able. So we put our heads to­gether, and as a re­sult of that, we’ve come up with this path­way which ar­tic­u­lates into an amaz­ing 44 bach­e­lor’s de­grees.”

UALR also has part­nered with Rock Re­gion Metro to al­low free bus rides to all of its stu­dents, staff and fac­ulty. Pu­laski Tech stu­dents and em­ploy­ees have had sim­i­lar ac­cess since 2016.

The an­nounce­ment comes as the state is switch­ing to a new fund­ing method for its pub­lic col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties. The method is mov­ing from one based largely on en­roll­ment to one based largely on stu­dent suc­cess — stu­dents’ headed to­ward a high-qual­ity cer­tifi­cate that leads to a job or a col­lege de­gree. Un­der the new model, uni­ver­si­ties also will be mea­sured on a stu­dent’s time to de­gree and the num­ber of cred­its the stu­dent has at grad­u­a­tion.

The two schools started work­ing on the re­design shortly af­ter Pu­laski Tech joined the Univer­sity of Arkansas Sys­tem in Fe­bru­ary, El­libee said. Pu­laski Tech has fed stu­dents into UALR for more than a decade, she said.

“I think what makes this one so special is that it is the ab­so­lute best in ar­tic­u­la­tion be­cause stu­dents don’t have to re­peat,” she said.

Trans­fer stu­dents can get off course if they take cour­ses that don’t count to­ward their ma­jor or if they have to re­peat cour­ses, the chan­cel­lors said. Tak­ing more cour­ses than nec­es­sary means stu­dents are shelling out more money for tu­ition and fees and cost of liv­ing, Roger­son said. Ul­ti­mately, those stu­dents may not grad­u­ate or grad­u­ate on time.

This fall, Pu­laski Tech stu­dents will be ad­vised about the pos­si­bil­ity and will have spe­cific cour­ses mapped out for them, Roger­son said. UALR also is hiring a re­cruiter specif­i­cally for Pu­laski Tech stu­dents to work along­side the trans­fer ad­viser/co­or­di­na­tor, he said. The ad­viser/co­or­di­na­tor was the most help­ful for Anthony Free­man, 25, who is start­ing at UALR this fall af­ter grad­u­at­ing from Pu­laski Tech last spring.

Free­man orig­i­nally planned to trans­fer to the Univer­sity of Arkansas, Fayet­teville’s engi­neer­ing pro­gram, a more tech­ni­cal pro­gram, he said. He changed course his last year at Pu­laski Tech and de­cided to go to UALR, where he earned sev­eral schol­ar­ships and will study ar­chi­tec­tural and con­struc­tion engi­neer­ing.

“My trans­fer ex­pe­ri­ence is pretty easy­go­ing,” he said. “It’s pretty much not too much of a has­sle when you’re on the plan al­ready, when you have guid­ance, some­thing like the 2+2 pro­gram.”

He and his ad­viser/co­or­di­na­tor cre­ated his UALR sched­ule be­fore he grad­u­ated from Pu­laski Tech, he said, and he has the rest of his time at UALR planned out. So far, he’s been debt-free, too.

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