Streamlining the Transfer of Credit Process

December 16, 2022

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Title: Holistic Credit Mobility: Centering Learning in Credential Completion

Authors: Sarah Pingel, Chau-Fang Lin, Martin Kurzweil

Source: Ithaka S+R

Highly mobile students (students who experience multiple entries or withdrawal points at one or multiple institutions) face degree completion barriers regarding the transfer and acceptance of credentials due to inconsistent institutional and state policies, according to a new report from Ithaka S+R.

College students may arrive with an accrued set of credentials from programs such as dual enrollment, military or corporate training, examinations/assessments, and course transfers. The reports calls for a holistic credit mobility approach, which refers to the “multi-source, multi-modal credit accumulation of mobile students, and empowers those students to chart a path that counts all their learning toward a credential” (p. 3).

This is beneficial because of streamlined credentials and degree plans, as well as degree completion in a timely manner while alleviating costs for students. It also provides flexibility as we emerge from the pandemic and meet the needs of an evolving workforce.

The report addresses three areas to support this approach:

  • Supportive technologies can be tools integrated into facilitating academic advising and navigating degree plans, such as system programs that assist with aligning credits with course descriptions across institutions.
  • Policies around credit mobility need to be reviewed at the institutional, systemwide, and state levels. Additionally, collaborating and communicating with cross-sector stakeholders (such as high school, community college, and workforce leaders) to address these policies is key.
  • Responsive practices that address individual mobility scenarios and advising needs (such as reentry for withdrawn students or students with monetary balances on their accounts), as well as provide better pathways for transferring to other institutions within a region.

Several best practices are listed as examples of quality holistic credit mobility: Ithaka S+R and CUNY’s Transfer Explorer Program; Oregon House Bill 4059; Maryland House Bill 460; and the Western Interstate Compact for Higher Education’s Interstate Passport Program. Among these practices it is to be noted that there is a focus on intentionality, incentives, and institutional capacity.

These practices encompass the following:

  • Using technology to develop transcript evaluations, articulation agreements, and transfer plans
  • Unified statewide transfer agreements for major academic programs
  • Funding incentives for the institution with higher transfer student degree completions
  • Reporting of reasons for denied credential requests to their respective institutions (overseen by a governing board)
  • Implementation of reverse transfer processes and structures
  • Course sharing across peer institutions in the state

The authors conclude that ensuring quality for these structures will be met with challenges, specifically being mindful of varying institutional accreditation requirements, financial disincentives for the institutions involved accepting credentials from other spaces, and evolving competency levels for recent graduates.

For additional information, download the report here.

—Tabatha Cruz

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