The University of North Carolina Board of Governors and the State Board of Community Colleges recently signed the Comprehensive Articulation Agreement allowing students transferring to a UNC-System school to retain the credits they earned at a community college.
The agreement will make it easier for students at community colleges to decide which courses to take that will be fully transferable to the university system. This will allow students to attend community college for a year or two and then transfer to a university without losing the credits they’ve already earned, according to Thomas Harrelson, the secretary of the University Governance Committee for the UNC-System.
Harrelson said this agreement is something that the board has been working toward for several years, as it is something needed to ensure the success of all students.
About two years ago, the Community-College System began a strategic plan called Success North Carolina to advocate “success and completion,” Harrelson said.
Though completion could indicate that a community college student successfully earned his or her associates degree, it could also mean that a student hoping to transfer to a university would be able to do so without the loss of credits.
However, this did not apply to the UNC-System because the initial articulation agreement put in place in 1997 remained unchanged, according to Megen Hoenk, the director of marketing and external affairs for N.C. Community College System.
“We had to revisit the agreement as GEP courses changed over time,” Hoenk said. “It took a considerable effort from both the CommunityCollege System and the UNC-System working together, too.”
According to Hoenk, the agreement was set in motion after the number of transfer students increased during the start of the recession, as community college became an affordable option compared to attending a four-year university.
Currently, about 24,000 of students who started at a community college are on one of the UNC campuses. That’s more than 50 percent of the UNC transfer-student population, Hoenk said.
“Anecdotally, we heard from students who were having situations in which their credits weren’t transferring, and this can be frustrating because they could be relying on some form of financial aid, and they were having to take some classes again,” Hoenk said. “We decided to review the articulation agreement and through the new agreement, we hope to save students and their families time and money.”
Starting this fall, students entering the Community-College System will have the ability to enroll as college transfer students in an effort to clearly determine the classes they need to register for to leave the community college with an associates degree, according to Hoenk.
While enrolling as a community-college transfer student, students will be required to take a success course, in which they will detail what courses they would have to take in order to transfer credits to a university.
Students who complete their associates degree will have all their credits transfer to equivalent classes at the university level, rather than electives, which was often the case before the agreement was put in place.
If a student decides to transfer after one year, or before completing his or her associates degree, classes found in a universal general education course list will be transferable. Classes in this list have been determined by faculty members and staff in both school systems, according to Hoenk.
The agreement has now been signed, and the Board of Governors are working toward coming up with individual details within colleges and universities, According to Harrelson.
Hoenk said representatives from all 16 UNC-system universities and 58 community colleges are helping to design and develop the agreement.
Harrelson said they are working with private universities to offer similar benefits, but because they are not technically a part of the school system, these private universities will have no obligation to do so.