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Nebraska Transfer Initiative

On November 2, 1995, 25 Nebraska post-secondary institutions signed the Nebraska Transfer Initiative. The signing of this document has led to increased cooperation in the transfer of courses between Nebraska's Community colleges and its four-year institutions.

Nebraska's colleges and universities should collaborate in the development of a statewide agreement and policy on (a) the transfer of college-level credit, and (b) the transfer of the Associate of Arts degree as fulfilling both the general education requirements of the receiving institution, and the requirements for entrance to the junior class.

Challenges and Opportunities for Nebraska Higher Education...A Call To Action, final report to the LB 247 Post-secondary Education Study Committee, November 1990.

It is appropriate that, five years after this report was presented, twenty-five public and private colleges and universities in the State of Nebraska are joining together on the second day of November, 1995, to sign the Nebraska Transfer Initiative.

Nebraska Transfer Initiative General Education Core Curriculum

I. Purpose and Scope
The purpose of this initiative is to improve access and opportunities for students who wish to pursue baccalaureate degrees after completing Associate of Arts degrees at community colleges. The common core curriculum in general education for the Associate of Arts, Academic Transfer degree has been developed and adopted by the six Nebraska Community College Areas. The core curriculum is composed of courses in the arts and sciences which partially fulfill the Associate of Arts degree requirements (Attachment 1). The remainder of credit hours required for the degree should be selected by the student in consultation with the receiving institution.

The Nebraska common core curriculum in general education, while not duplicating any single institution's requirements, closely mirrors the typical lower-division general education requirements of the Nebraska baccalaureate degree-granting institutions, parallels the national profile of general education curricula prepared by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, and is similar to the transfer and articulation agreements of such other states as Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Missouri , and Virginia.

The common core has been designed to provide a smooth transition with a minimum loss of time and credit when it is accepted by baccalaureate degree-granting institutions as the basis of a statewide transfer agreement. Associate and baccalaureate degree-granting institutions are equal partners in providing the first two years of baccalaureate degree programs in Nebraska. While each institution is ultimately responsible for the quality of the programs it provides, both associate and baccalaureate degree-granting institutions continue to work together to assure that their lower-division courses are comparable in scope, quality, and intellectual rigor.

II. Background
During the 1993-94 academic year, the Council of Instructional Officers of the Community Colleges developed a common curricular core in the Associate of Arts, Academic Transfer degree. Their intention was to ensure consistency, continuity, and quality in the academic transfer program. The core curriculum is based on:
  1. A philosophical rationale for the common curriculum;
  2. General education categories for the common core curriculum; and
  3. Credit hour requirements for each category.
Prior to this articulation initiative, there were individual agreements between institutions which varied widely and did not provide certainty to students that the classes would transfer. The disadvantage of this kind of arrangement is that it is based on the assumption that students know either what baccalaureate institution they intend to transfer to or what baccalaureate major they wish to pursue, or both. In fact, a large number of students enter community colleges without clear educational or career goals, and others find their goals unrealistic. The common core curriculum provides a good way for students, particularly undecided students, to begin their undergraduate experience.

The Council of Instructional Officers of the Community Colleges presented a draft of the common core curriculum in general education to the deans of the Nebraska colleges and universities at the Fall 1994 Deans' Meeting. The deans discussed and solidified a transferable common core of general education classes for the benefit of students in Nebraska. Altogether, representatives of 30 colleges and universities worked together on this project during the 1994-95 academic year.

Surveys were used to identify the common core curriculum and were distributed to all public and private colleges in the state. The results were shared with all deans and discussed extensively during the fall and spring meetings. Several assumptions guided their efforts:
  1. Articulation is a voluntary process to facilitate educational progress for students.
  2. Trust, respect, and continued participation of all institutions are integral parts of the articulation process.
  3. Individuals who are pursuing further education should be treated as mature adult learners.
  4. Articulation allows flexibility, choice, and diversity.
  5. Each educational institution's mission, goals, and standards for admission, progression, and graduation are preserved.
  6. Each institution has met the accreditation standards of the North Central Association and is recognized as an equal partner in the transfer initiative.
  7. While each degree-granting institution has developed its own general education program as part of its degree requirements, most general education objectives are similar from one institution to another.
During the summer of 1995, a 34 semester-hour core was established as the basis for the common core of general education by the participating institutions. The deans hope to add courses to the common core in the future. Other institutions have indicated an intent to participate and will be added when they sign the articulation agreement.

III. Procedures/Structure
Any student who has successfully completed courses - the equivalent of grade "C" or above - identified in the articulated associated of arts general education core curriculum and who is admitted in transfer to a signatory institution: will be granted standing comparable to current students who have completed the same number of equivalent credit courses toward an associate/baccalaureate-level degree will be able to progress toward associate/baccalaureate degree completion at a rate comparable to that of students who entered the associate/baccalaureate institution as first-time freshmen.

To assure students of comparable treatment, signatory institutions agree to the following standards and procedures:

Signatory institutions will accept the common core of general education for direct application to their degree or major requirements;

Signatory institutions may require admitted transfer students to complete institution-wide general education requirements not included in the transferable core.

Signatory institutions will grant equivalent general education credit for satisfactorily completed courses identified in the general education core to students admitted in transfer who began but did not complete the Associate of Arts Degree at an accredited signatory institution.

The official signed agreement will be recorded in the appropriate sector representative offices and in the respective institution.

IV. Future Efforts
Chancellors, presidents and chief academic officers of associate and baccalaureate degree-granting institutions should provide leadership in developing and implementing state policies on transfer and articulation and in resolving issues of mutual concern. To this end, the Nebraska deans will regularly assess the status of policies on statewide transfer and articulation to resolve any issues that arise.

Program facilities from both associate and baccalaureate degree-granting institutions should take primary responsibility for developing and maintaining course and program articulation agreements and for promoting compatibility between associate and baccalaureate curricula.

Associate and baccalaureate degree-granting institutions should work together to expand opportunities for students to complete baccalaureate degrees. Through formal partnerships, associate and baccalaureate institutions should jointly encourage baccalaureate degree completion and provide information on the transfer process, guidance in program and course selection, and orientation to the academic environment to prospective transfer students. Dual admission, "2 + 2", and similar articulation and transfer agreements should be developed to facilitate the transfer of students.

Colleges and universities should assure that transfer students have the same opportunities as other students to participate in the social, cultural, and academic support services necessary for their integration into the campus community.

It has been recommended that a statewide system for monitoring the academic progress of cohorts of students who transfer between institutions would facilitate cooperation and transfer opportunities among Nebraska higher education institutions. This information could serve as the basis for the regular review and improvement of the undergraduate curricula, support services, and articulation and transfer agreements of associate and baccalaureate degree-granting institutions.