MADISON — Students will be able to transfer credits more easily between the Wisconsin Technical College System and the University of Wisconsin System as a result of action taken Thursday at an historic joint meeting between the systems’ boards.
UW Board of Regents President San W. Orr, Jr., and WTCS Board President L. Anne Reid, signed a joint resolution adopting a Statement of Guiding Principles on Student Transfer. The principles state that credit transfer supports lifelong learning, offers flexibility for obtaining credentials, reduces duplication and lessens the cost of education, and promotes consistency in the awarding of credit.
“We are taking steps to create a truly integrated system of higher education in Wisconsin,” said UW System President Katharine C. Lyall. “We want to establish a seamless system where students can progress up a ladder of options that best suit their academic interests and career needs.”
Specific actions taken by the Board of Regents Thursday to advance credit transfer opportunities include:
- Authorizing UW institutions to create “2+2” programs, permitting WTCS students who graduate with a two-year associate degree to transfer as a third-year student into a bachelor of science or applied science degree program in a related field of study, or into a broad based bachelor of applied arts or sciences degree program.
- Creating more baccalaureate degree completion programs in areas where there is course content alignment, starting with pilot agreements in Nursing and Early Childhood Education.
- Increasing the number of general education (non-occupational) credits that students can transfer, by adding two courses in mathematics and/or natural sciences, in addition to the 15 credits currently allowed in the areas of communications, behavioral sciences and social sciences.
“Most people who attend a technical college do so to obtain employment skills,” said WTCS State Director Edward Chin. “But once students enter the labor market, their career goals may change and achieving a baccalaureate degree may help them further their goals,” he said.
President Lyall and Director Chin thanked the Governor and the Legislature for their support and interest in enhanced transfer opportunities for students.
A Transfer Study Committee co-chaired by David J. Ward, UW System senior vice president for academic affairs, and James A. Urness, WTCSB assistant state director, has been working since January to hammer out the details of the transfer agreements.
Gov. Tommy G. Thompson thanked the two boards, UW System President Katharine Lyall, WTCS Director Ed Chin and Dr. Karl Hertz for their hard work on the project. Hertz is the former superintendent of the Mequon-Thiensville School District who represented the governor in this effort.
“This unprecedented action is an excellent start toward our ultimate goal of a seamless system of secondary and post-secondary options for Wisconsin’s students and families,” Gov. Thompson said. “We are moving toward a truly integrated system of higher education.”
Transfer opportunities between the two systems have been growing over the past decade. To date, roughly 380 agreements link WTCS programs to UW System majors, in disciplines ranging from agriculture to biotechnology, marketing to social work.
In 1998-99, 2,619 WTCS students transferred to the UW System compared to 1,491 in 1990-91. WTCS students now comprise 18 percent of the 14,802 students who transfer into the UW System.
Currently, most transfer students from the WTCS enter the UW as freshmen or sophomores. A primary goal of the new agreement is to develop new opportunities for WTCS graduates who want to build on their associate degrees without having to begin again.
Labor market forces, including an aging labor force, rapid changes in technology and a growing labor shortage in the state were cited as important factors in promoting increased transfer opportunities. Also, employers are looking for avenues to upgrade the management and professional skills of their workers, and are looking for staff with stronger technical backgrounds.
Sharyn Wisniewski, UW System
Kyle Schwarm , WTCS