Tracking Transfer in Connecticut

Bill would require the state’s public universities to release data on credit acceptance for transfer students as well as graduation rates for those students.

June 15, 2017
 

A pending Connecticut law will now mandate that the University of Connecticut and the state’s four other public universities publicly release data on which transfer student credits they accept and which they reject.

Supporters say the bill, which the Legislature passed last week, would make transfer between the state’s community colleges and universities more transparent and clear for students, researchers and the state’s legislators.

“There has been a lot of incorrect information about student transfer, therefore we support the Legislature’s decision to request annual reports using accurate and qualified data for these programs instead of relying on anecdotal evidence,” Maribel La Luz, director of communications for the state’s community college and university system, said in an email.

Beyond reporting which credits are accepted and rejected, the universities -- Southern, Central, Western and Eastern Connecticut State Universities, along with UConn -- also would have to publicize their transfer graduation rates.

“I don’t know of any other state where the universities are required to report which credits don’t transfer and on the graduation rates of transfer students,” said Davis Jenkins, senior researcher at Community College Research Center at Columbia University's Teachers College, adding that Washington and other states offer the information voluntarily. “But I think this is an important piece of consumer news, because students are concerned about their credits.”

Last year CCRC released a study measuring the effectiveness of states and institutions in helping community college students earn four-year degrees. Connecticut ranked 30th out of 43 states in the study, which found that the state's 12 community colleges had a 29 percent transfer-out rate and a 34 percent transfer-out bachelor's degree completion rate.

The legislation is connected to a new state system announced in April called Transfer Tickets. Prior to the bill, the universities didn't have to report transfer statistics, but Transfer Tickets will help solve that problem. The system creates a community college transfer pathway from all 12 two-year institutions to the public universities. Similar to UConn’s Guaranteed Admission Program, the Transfer Tickets allow students to transfer entire programs of study. Those students are guaranteed full junior status and can complete a bachelor’s degree in their major without losing any credits or being required to take extra credits.

At Central Connecticut State University, which received about 900 transfer students this fall, of which up to 45 percent are from the community colleges, Transfer Ticket is expected to help identify students in the application process and provide clarity to students on how credits are transferred, said Larry Hall, director of recruitment and admissions at Central Connecticut.

"This gives students hope that they can complete at one of the public state universities in Connecticut," Hall said. "It's very clear and transparent how things should be moving, so they don't have to question and it creates a positive pipeline in a collaborative effort between our community colleges and four-year institutions."

Some of the universities already do much of what the bill requires, although now they’re mandated to send annual reports to the state, and the data they send will be comparable across the system.

UConn, for instance, has been providing the state with transfer reports for the last few years, said Nathan Fuerst, the university's assistant vice president for enrollment and director of admissions, adding that the problem over the last few years has been a lack of data to compare the state’s other public universities with UConn on transfer.

“We’re excited that there will be a comparable report for other universities,” he said. “We’re issuing a report to help people get better information about what credits will be taken, and right now there’s no one else to hold that up against.”

UConn already has the Guaranteed Admission Program, which is an agreement between the state’s community college system and the university to provide a seamless transfer for students who enroll in a liberal arts transfer program at a two-year institution and continue to earn a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts, agriculture, health or business.

Each year about 900 new students transfer to UConn, with about one-third of them coming from the state’s community colleges. The Guaranteed Admission Program only accounts for about 100 of those students a year, Fuerst said.

But over all, the six-year graduation rate for UConn’s transfer students is about 70 percent, compared to 82 percent for students who enrolled at the university first.

“We want to make data-driven decisions, and knowing what the numbers are is a reasonable expectation,” said Lauren Doninger, program coordinator for liberal arts and sciences at Gateway Community College, adding that a pending merger of the state's community colleges into the same system with the universities also should provide more clarity.

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