V. Goals and Recommendations
The recommendations below include the implementation of a new streamlined transfer policy, MassTransfer, which will replace the Commonwealth Transfer Compact, Joint Admissions, and the Tuition Advantage Program with a single transfer policy to simplify the transfer process and transfer advising. In addition, the recommendations address the following goals:
- provide easy access to clear, accurate, and cohesive transfer information;
- ensure sustained effectiveness and accountability of transfer policies and practices; and
- expand statewide program and course transfer alignment.
Goal 1: Implement the MassTransfer policy effective Academic Year 2009–10. (See Appendix C for description of MassTransfer.)
- Develop MassTransfer implementation guidelines under the leadership of the Commonwealth Transfer Advisory Group.
- Devote a full-time position at the Department of Higher Education to coordinate and oversee statewide transfer policy initiatives.
- Convene transfer officers from Massachusetts public institutions of higher education to identify and solve transfer-related issues.
- Develop internal communications (e.g. professional development for campus personnel) and external communications (e.g. identifying academic programs qualifying for MassTransfer) to promote and explain MassTransfer to all relevant parties.
- Confer the same tuition discount identified in MassTransfer to associate degree programs that do not qualify for MassTransfer but have articulation agreements with programs at state colleges and University of Massachusetts campuses that guarantee admission and full transfer and applicability of credits to the baccalaureate degree.
- After implementation of MassTransfer for three years and in consideration of the Commonwealth’s fiscal capacity, examine the feasibility of increasing the tuition discount from 33% to 100% and including students enrolled in evening, weekend, accelerated, and online programs.
Goal 2: Provide easy access to clear, accurate, and cohesive transfer information.
- Create a statewide transfer website as part of the Massachusetts College and Career Readiness web portal targeted for various audiences including students, parents, faculty and academic advisors, transfer coordinators, and guidance counselors. (See Appendix D for detailed information and associated costs.)
- Adopt a statewide electronic transcript delivery system with the eventual addition of online degree audits able to interface with various student information systems and PreK-16 systems.
- Develop and carry out an on-going public relations campaign to highlight the state’s commitment to higher education access and success through transfer.
Goal 3: Ensure sustained effectiveness and accountability of transfer policies and practices.
- Support the community college student success measure which includes transfer currently under development by the Board of Higher Education.
- Develop common statewide definitions of a transfer student, transfer rate, transfer retention rate, and transfer graduation rate.
- Submit an annual transfer report developed by the Commonwealth Transfer Advisory Group to the Joint Committee on Higher Education.
- Support the recommendation in the Board of Higher Education’s 2005 Final Report from the Task Force on Graduation Rates at the State Colleges: Increase degree completion rates of transfer students by 5 percentage points, resulting in 58% of transfer students graduating within four years of arrival at the institution to which they transfer.
- Review transfer policies and practices at each Massachusetts public higher education institution and retract those that impose barriers to transfer.
- Establish clear structures which include faculty, administrators, and students at each Massachusetts public higher education institution to address transfer issues.
- Establish and publish a transfer student appeals process at each Massachusetts public higher education institution.
- Designate a transfer ombudsperson at each Massachusetts public higher education institution who ensures institutional compliance with transfer policies and procedures.
Goal 4: Expand alignment of statewide program-to-program and course-to-course transfer.
- Develop statewide transfer guides by major similar to the recently-enacted statewide Early Childhood Education and Elementary Education Transfer Compacts which guarantee admission and full transfer and applicability of credit to the baccalaureate degree. Statewide transfer guides by major should be developed by faculty based upon comparable course content and common student learning outcomes.
- Build a directory of statewide course-to-course equivalencies among all community colleges, state colleges, and University of Massachusetts campuses based on comparable course content and common student learning outcomes.
- Convene statewide meetings for faculty to develop statewide major guides and course-to-course equivalencies. Regional and discipline-specific breakout groups—similar to CONNECT in southeastern Massachusetts and to Central Links in central Massachusetts—should also collaborate on opportunities, trends, and grants.
- Implement an online system to support faculty review of course syllabi and development of common student learning outcomes.
- Ensure that all Commonwealth Honors courses are accepted as honors courses into receiving institutions by clearly designating these courses on student transcripts.
- Standardize the transfer of nationally-recognized exams (e.g. CLEP, DANTES, Advanced Placement Examinations), dual enrollment credits, articulated credits with high schools (e.g. tech-prep credits), international credits, and credits earned through prior learning assessments.
- Encourage independent institutions to participate voluntarily in statewide transfer initiatives.