“Access, Success, and Completion” was the focus of the second annual joint meeting of the State System and Community College presidents and chief academic officers this Wednesday in Harrisburg. This was another historic meeting between these public higher education partners that continue to work together to better serve the students of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Did you know that nearly half of the new undergraduate students who transferred to the State System’s 14 universities last year came from one of the 14 community colleges of Pennsylvania? That’s an impressive number, but we can do more. A recent study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce notes that, by 2020, 60% of jobs in Pennsylvania will require some post-secondary education or training. In order to fill this demand, partnerships and collaborations that remove barriers and focusing on access will be vitally important.
The landmark Reverse Transfer Agreement that was announced during Wednesday’s meeting is a great example of how both the universities and community colleges are committed to improving student completion rates. The agreement will allow State System students who began their studies at a Pennsylvania community college to receive their associate’s degree while continuing their education. Those who earned at least 45 credits at their community college before transferring to the university are able to reverse transfer credits back to their community college once they have earned enough to apply for an associate’s degree, at no additional cost.
Why is this so important? The completion of an associate’s degree would enhance the student’s earning potential as they work toward a bachelor’s degree, certification, or other credential from a State System university.
I applaud our community college and university leaders for taking this step forward, together. It’s crucial for all of us to continue to think of ways to partner with others to better meet the needs of students and employers.