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Ivy Tech students find some credits will not transfer

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s effort to turn Ivy Tech Community College into a two-year feeder program is being stymied by a lack of uniform standards that has created a system in which some four-year universities accept transfer credits while others reject them.

Ivy Tech has agreements with 65 universities on which classes will transfer, but they aren’t binding, and the agreements are often confusing, The Indianapolis Star found. In some cases, an individual dean can have the final say on whether a course taken at Ivy Tech will count toward a degree in a four-year program.

“Even with university-level agreement, departments do not always comply,” Don Doucette, vice president and provost of academic affairs at Ivy Tech, told the Indiana Commission for Higher Education in May. He cited examples where credits for psychology, economics, medical terminology and math classes were not accepted by other institutions.

The muddy situation could force students to pay higher tuition to retake classes at four-year schools and could jeopardize the state’s effort to improve its college graduation rate, experts say. Only 31 percent of Indiana college students complete their degrees on time, while 55 percent finish in six years. That ranks the state 22nd in the nation for college completion.

Chris J. Foley, director of undergraduate admissions at IUPUI, said content and teaching of classes can vary to an extent that some classes can’t be transferred because the curriculum is too different.

“Students always assume the transfer will be really simple and that the courses are taught the same way. But that is not true,” he said.

Pamela Horne, Purdue’s assistant vice president for enrollment management and dean of admissions, agreed.

She said scrutiny of previous credits is needed to ensure that transfer students are “on par” with their peers at Purdue and are ready to move on to upper classes.

“The primary concern,” she said, “is that the student has fulfilled equivalent degree requirements and is prepared to be successful in subsequent course work at Purdue.”

Ken Sauer, who oversees academic affairs for the Indiana Commission for Higher Education, said he does not favor a system that requires a uniform syllabus that would force every campus to use the same books, same assignments and same final exams.

“I don’t think that would be feasible,” Sauer said. “It’s not in the tradition and culture of post-secondary education. But what is necessary is for faculty to sign off on the syllabus that is being taught as being equivalent and that it provides the essential learning outcomes expected from the students.”

State lawmakers established Indiana’s Core Transfer Library three years ago in an effort to make the transfer process clearer. It has 89 courses that transfer among the state’s public institutions, including Ivy Tech.

But not all campuses follow the library. About 15 percent of all the credit transfer agreements come with conditions imposed by the receiving institution.

John Beacon, a vice president for enrollment management at Indiana State University, said that reflects a skepticism about the quality of the initial instruction.

“I think there has long been a feeling on four-year college campuses that the level of instruction is not the same at a two-year college,” Beacon said. “I think that perception is changing, but I think you’ll find some of that kind of thinking on almost any four-year campus in the country.”

Ivy Tech President Thomas J. Snyder says he wants to create a position of “transfer advocate” to monitor transfer issues and help direct students.

But Ivy Tech officials say more course agreements should be added to the Core Transfer Library to eliminate gray areas.

“People are still entitled to their opinions, but the agreement is the rule,” Snyder said.



Posted 7/19/2010




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