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Tennessee to Increase Degree Completion through Reverse Transfer Solution

Posted on 6/12/2014 by AcademyOne  

Thanks to new technology from AcademyOne, in the near future Tennessee community college students who transfer to four-year universities before completing associate degrees can be awarded those degrees as soon as academic requirements are met—even at another institution.

AcademyOne was selected in a competitive bid process to develop and implement a computerized system to facilitate “reverse transfer,” in which community colleges review and award associate degrees to students who transfer out and later complete associate degree requirements while pursuing a four-year degree elsewhere.

The multi-year project to enable reverse transfer is a joint venture of the University of Tennessee, the Tennessee Board of Regents, the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association, and the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. The University of Tennessee is leading the project, with technical support and leadership from the Center for Business and Economic Research at UT Knoxville.

This statewide process will both encourage students toward degree completion and provide them a valuable credential for employment while they finish college. At least 1,300 students annually are projected to be eligible for an associate degree once the reverse transfer solution is fully implemented. Dr. Richard Rhoda, executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, summarizes the ultimate goal: "As we look to ensure more Tennesseans have the higher education credential they need to succeed in the workforce, reverse transfer is an innovative approach that will benefit our students, and ultimately, the state economy.”

About two-thirds of students who transfer from two-year to four-year institutions do so without first receiving a degree or certificate, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. If those students don’t complete a bachelor’s degree after transferring to a university, they’re left with no credential to show for their college efforts.

“This initiative is a definite ‘win-win,’ ” said Dr. India Lane, UT assistant vice president for academic affairs and student success. “Students may not be aware that credits earned after transfer from a two-year college can help round out their associate degree requirements. For transfer students, a reverse degree award provides a well-deserved stamp of accomplishment and appears to be a motivating factor to finish the 4-year degree. On the institutional side, both community colleges and 4-year universities stand to benefit from the impact of this initiative on graduation rates, measures that feed into the state funding formula and national rankings.”

A $300,000 appropriation from the state of Tennessee and a nearly $400,000 “Credit When It’s Due” grant from Lumina Foundation are helping fund implementation. Lumina Foundation is an Indianapolis-based private foundation dedicated to expanding access to and success in education beyond high school.

The reverse transfer initiative is part of the larger “Drive to 55” campaign in Tennessee. The campaign’s ambitious goal is to raise the number of Tennessee adults with a postsecondary credential from 32 percent to 55 percent by 2025. In launching Drive to 55, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam noted the critical relationship between an educated and credentialed workforce, and economic growth and quality of life in the state.

About AcademyOne

AcademyOne is a consulting and software development firm serving higher education. The company delivers industry-leading solutions to states and institutions seeking to improve student retention and degree completion rates, especially among the growing population of nontraditional learners.

About Tennessee’s Statewide Higher Education Initiatives

The entire Tennessee educational community is engaged in a collaborative, concerted effort to encourage college enrollment, ease transfer throughout the state’s public and private colleges and universities, encourage near-completers to return to college and obtain a degree, and to increase retention and graduation rates while decreasing time to completion statewide.

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