New agreement improves transfer options

Jack McDuffie Special to the Journal

February 25, 2014

DUBLIN — Soon students transferring from Bladen Community College and other community colleges in the North Carolina Community College System to four-year colleges in the University of North Carolina System will find the process to be more defined and easier to follow.

On Friday, Feb. 21, officials of the two systems signed a revised Comprehensive Articulation Agreement that will facilitate a smoother transfer process for students who complete an associate degree at one of the state’s community colleges before matriculating at a university in the State University System.

According to information released by the two systems, the revised agreement was driven by an increased focus on student success and the growing number of N.C. community college students transferring to the state’s public universities as well as saving families both time and money. It added that the change will stretch taxpayer funded dollars by offering students a more direct pathway to career and educational success.

“Our community colleges are built on the idea of taking students from where they are, as far as they can go,” said State Board of Community Colleges Chairman Linwood Powell. “As increasing numbers of students choose to begin their higher education journey at our community colleges, this agreement continues our legacy of providing hope and opportunity to North Carolinians who walk through our doors.”

“We are pleased to be able to offer this agreement,” said BCC President William Findt. “The agreement will aid Bladen Community College students who transfer to the state’s universities by the acceptance of all hours earned by the student at BCC. The course work for two full years will transfer to the university. This creates a financial savings for Bladen County residents who begin their education at the community college. The articulation agreement is the culmination of two years of work by faculty from both systems.”

Since 1997 the state’s community college students have been guided in their transfer to universities in the state system by an agreement signed that year. As the years passed, general education requirements evolved and students increasingly found that some credits did not count toward their major programs of study, resulting in delays in degree attainment and added costs for students and their families.

Under the revised agreement, community college students will enter transfer pathways with clearly defined goals and an understanding of how earned transfer hours fit into university requirements. Additionally, the revised agreement:

Identifies foundational courses that will transfer to all UNC campuses to meet general education requirements;

Improves transfer student success by requiring coursework that helps students map their academic pathway from community colleges to universities; and

Encourages community college students to complete an AA or AS degree before transferring to a UNC campus by guaranteeing entry as juniors with full transfer credit.

UNC System President Tom Ross observed that nearly 24,000 students who began their studies at a community college are now undergraduates on a UNC campus, accounting for more than half of all UNC transfer students.

“By working together, UNC and the NC Community Colleges can continue to grow that number and better meet North Carolina’s future workforce needs,” said Ross. “This revised agreement is an important step forward in streamlining the transfer process and providing opportunities for more North Carolinians to attain a baccalaureate degree.”

Scott Ralls, president of the N.C. Community College System said, “Ensuring the success of this revised articulation agreement will mean we have to be more vigilant, sharing and analyzing data on student success, examining what we can do independently and collaboratively to expand and improve on this agreement. Today’s articulation agreement is just another step in North Carolina’s proud history of higher education progress.”

Hundreds of faculty and administrators from North Carolina’s 58 community colleges and 16 UNC campuses weighed in on the design and development of this revised agreement. The revised CAA will go into effect for new college transfer students in the fall of 2014. Students currently enrolled in an Associate of Arts or Associate of Science program will continue under the existing agreement as long as they remain continuously enrolled.