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Organizations Call for Greater Transferability of College Credits


Monday, November 9, 2020   

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Citing a pair of problems, higher education groups want institutions to make it easier for students to transfer course credits between schools.

Members of the Scaling Partners Network say COVID-19 and the economic downturn are likely to lead to more students switching schools.

But they aren't always able to transfer all of their credits, leading to a loss of money and time.

Dr. Anthony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, said institutions largely function on their own rather than in collaboration.

"We've never made higher education a system," Carnevale contended. "And we've come to the point in our history where it needs to be because the vast majority or the majority - two out of three, at least - of Americans need higher education in order to get a good job."

Half of bachelor's degree graduates attended at least two schools before receiving their degrees, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

In 2017, Oregon passed House Bill 2998, which led to the development of the Oregon Transfer Compass to streamline the transfer process.

But how many credits can be transferred still depends on the institution. Universities often limit the percentage of credits that can be applied toward a degree if they weren't attained at that school.

The Scaling Partners Network's call to action noted students of color are more likely to transfer, and so this issue disproportionately affects them.

Along with making credits more portable, Carnevale noted funding is necessary to address the racial gap in higher education.

"Unless we fund public institutions, we're going to have a wider and wider divide between what are essentially affluent white Americans and minorities and low-income white Americans in our higher education system," Carnevale asserted.

The letter also calls on policy leaders to make financial aid more portable.

Carnevale added more data on this issue is necessary to understand it fully.

The call to action includes groups advocating for racial justice in higher education, university associations and policy organizations.

Support for this reporting was provided by Lumina Foundation.

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