A proposal by the University of Connecticut to slash the number of credits transferable from other schools from 90 to 30, may have been put on hold, but knowing that it was being considered at all still has many students alarmed and some educators trying to better understand the purpose for the recommendation.
The proposed policy change that has caused a furor was made by vice provost Sally Reis and vice president Wayne Locust several weeks ago, but the university senate which governs the school has stated it will not be voted on at this time.
At Capital Community College in Hartford where nearly 30% of the students are Latinos, and like so many other college students are trying to keep costs – and debt after graduation – as low as possible, the general reaction to the recommendation is frustration and worry that the proposal may re-surface again in another form.
“I think it’s inappropriate,” reacted Capital student Nelinette Ortega, who plans on going to UCONN to complete a Bachelor’s Degree in nursing. “We come here because this is what we can afford. When it comes time to take credits for our Bachelor’s or our Master’s, we’ll go to another college, but we don’t want to take a big college loan. Then you’d be in debt forever. Then what if you can’t pay because you’ve got so many bills? You’re stuck in a predicament and you will be struggling, so that’s not good.”
Another student, Thalia Maldonado, said she probably would not consider UCONN as a viable option if the new rule goes through. Still a third student, Julitza Gonzalez, who has achieved guaranteed admission to UCONN for keeping her grades up, would lose credits she already earned. She plans to pursue a degree in Psychology, and she said that after studying hard at Capital, she found the idea of not receiving fully transferable credits to be very upsetting. With no special accommodation made for them, currently graduating students would find that a year or more of college study would not have counted toward their Bachelor’s Degrees.
The proposed change would impact those who are those currently pursuing the maximum allowable number of transfer credits at the state’s community colleges. Students attending these institutions in Connecticut are charged $420 in tuition for a typical 3-credit class, while the same student would pay $1,158 for a UCONN class, a difference of $738. The new rule would mean 60 fewer transferable credits, or almost $15,000 difference, for those students whose plan of study meant transferring to UCONN to earn a Bachelor’s Degree.
Dr. Wilfredo Nieves, president of Capital Community College, believes that UCONN was looking for constructive change, but “could have clarified its purpose and where it was going with that,” he said. He advised UCONN to consider all other parties who might have a stake in any proposed changes. He described the relationships between Connecticut’s institutions of higher learning as necessarily interdependent. “As they are trying to shape their identity and where they are heading, they need to work more closely with us.”
“If their [UCONN’s] idea is to encourage students to complete their Associate’s Degrees and then transfer, then the issue is clarifying what their intent is, what they hope to see. I think this was a case of UCONN coming forward with something it hadn’t really thought through as well as I think it might,” he added.
In response to a request for comment, the Board of Regents of for Higher Education, which oversees the community colleges and state universities, issued only this statement to CTLatinoNews.com:
“Transferring credits is an important component of affordability, which is why the Board of Regents is moving to implement a plan across our 17 Conn SCU institutions to ensure that students are taking the right courses towards their degree or certification—and that all of those credits count. The state colleges and universities have a unique and valuable mission in Connecticut—to keep high-quality education accessible and affordable for students, and make certain they leave school ready to compete in the 21st century job market.”
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