JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri's public universities would be required to accept transfer credit from sister institutions under a plan presented Wednesday in the Senate Education Committee.
As part of an effort to boost college graduation rates, Education Committee Chairman Sen. David Pearce, R-Warrensburg, presented the measure, which would create a "transfer library" of 25 courses that would count toward a student's degree at all public colleges in Missouri.
Pearce said this and other provisions in the bill are aimed at keeping students in college to earn their degree instead of dropping out after a few years.
"We have students show up as freshman and leave by the time they are a sophomore," Pearce said.
The bill could also help boost Missouri's percentage of people with college degrees, which is currently hovering just below the nations average. Commissioner for Higher Education Dr. David Russell pointed out that only 25 percent of our current third graders will get a college degree.
"It is an unfortunate waste of human capital," Russell said.
Pearce's legislation also includes a "reverse transfer" system to allow students to earn an associate degree if they accumulate enough hours in combination with schools that offer a four-year degree.
The bill also requires the public universities to adopt the "best practices" in remediation, for students who graduate high school without the skills to succeed in college. University of Central Missouri President Chuck Ambrose said this will cut down the time a student needs to catch up and complete their degree sooner.
"Time is the enemy for college completion," Ambrose said.
Sen. Jane Cunningham, R-St. Louis County, said she had concerns the legislation was not addressing the root problem of college completion.
"We are approaching 40 percent of high school students needing remediation ... how do we solve the problem to begin with?" Cunningham said.
Commissioner for Higher Education Dr. David Russell addressed Cunningham's concern by suggesting the legislation allows educators across the state to "get on the same page."
No one testified in opposition to Pearce's bill. The Education Committee took no action on the bill and could revisit the subject at its meeting next week.