Missouri students who transfer from a 2-year to a 4-year higher education institutions may be easier under a bill.
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Missouri students who transfer from a 2-year to a 4-year higher education institutions may be easier under a bill.

Date: April 16, 2012
By: Ruohan Xu
State Capitol Bureau

Legislation currently before lawmakers would give Missouri students looking to transfer credits between 2 and 4-year higher education institutions an easier time in the future.
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Wrap: Khadeaga Thabet is an accounting student from St. Louis Community College, and is transferring to the University of Missouri-St. Louis in the fall.

She works with her advisor closely, and only takes classes that can transfer.

But she is still prepared to repeat courses.

Actuality:  THABET2.WAV
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Description: "For repeating several classes, I think it take some of the time that I would have wished to do another class."

However, based on her friends' experience, repeating classes is not the only concern.

Actuality:  THABET1.WAV
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Description: "The cost is also a concern. So they are able to take a class here that is transferable, and they did know that. It will probably double the cost or more at the university to take."

Under the current system, Thabet is not the only student who faces the risk of losing credits and repeating courses during the transfer process.

St. Louis Community College’s vice chancellor for academic and student affairs, Dona Dare, has been working closely with transfer students.

She says the number of students who want to transfer has been increasing, but she says the transfer process can be clearer and more transparent.

Actuality:  DARE-1.WAV
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Description: "State wide, we have some works that certainly could be done to help support the transition of the students."

Different institutions have different policies for transferring credit.

Dare says a community college may have hundreds of agreements with different universities.

Therefore, it is sometimes difficult for students to follow various instructions.

Senate Education Committee Chair David Pearce and House Higher Education Committee Chair Mike Thomson worked together on legislation designed to make it easier to transfer credits.

The bill would establish a core library of 25 classes, including English, math and science, which would be guaranteed to transfer from one public higher education institution to another.

Pearce says this bill would make the process more efficient.

Actuality:  PEARCE-2.WAV
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Description: "So when students enroll a community college, they will know if that course will transfer to a 4-year college or not. So no surprises, totally transparent, and that way students won't be wasting time taking classes that won't transfer."

Thomson, who sponsors a version of this bill in the House, also stressed the importance of saving time in college.

Actuality:  THOMSON1.WAV
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Description: "It is a proven fact, that time is the enemy...as far as it’s going to the school. The longer it takes the more debt the student incurs, and also the more likely the student may not finished."

Thomson also says this bill would allow students to get a degree easier, leading to an increase in the percentage of Missourians with degrees. 

Actuality:  THOMSON2.WAV
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Description: "We know that in the next 10 or 12 years, the job demand is going to require about 60 percent of the workforce to have degrees or certifications of some type. Right now, at the state of Missouri, we are somehow under 40 percent."

Columbia Democratic Representative Steve Webber says he opposes the bill. He says the education quality in community college is different from universities, including the University of Missouri-Columbia.

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Description: "If the goal is just to pass out degrees, we can get everybody a degree. The goal should be declare quality education. We seem to concern more about the number of degrees we handed out than the quality of the degree represents."

Pearce, who sponsors a version of the bill in the Senate, says just because a student has these 25 courses, does not mean he or she is accepted in the college; receiving institutions would still maintain their high standards. Pearce says so far the receiving institutions seem to like it.

The Dean of Enrollment Services and director of admissions at University of Missouri-St. Louis, Alan Byrd, says he has the same goal as the students.

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Description: "Anything that allows students to complete the degree and make the transfer process easier and more convince for the student is definitely a good thing."

Byrd also says that communication between 2-year and 4-year institutions is the key to make sure transfer credits will be accepted. He also says  it is the community colleges' responsibility to make sure their students will meet the learning requirements after passing a course.

Another Columbia Democratic Representative Chris Kelly also says he opposes the bill.

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Description: "I don't think its the business of the legislators to tell the universities...to try to micro-manager the universities with the regard of subjects of academic credit. The universities themselves should governor that."

Regardless legislators' concern, Thabet says she is excited about this future opportunity for students like her.

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Description: "25 courses will be great. Because the serves that you got on a community college is lower cost, but convince for some people. It will be great if you can do as many as that, and they will be transfered."

The Senate passed the measure without opposition, and the House passed it with only three opposite votes.  

Both measures have moved onto their counterparts.

Reporting from the state Capitol, I'm Ruohan Xu.