Advances on transfer degree program

Robert Huskey/Daily Titan

Robert Huskey/Daily Tita

Representatives from the California State University system and California Community Colleges System discussed updated progress in the implementation of a new associate transfer degree by fall 2014 on Wednesday.

California Community Colleges deputy chancellor Erik Skinner expects every community college student graduating after fall 2014 to leave with a transfer degree.

The 18-month old transfer degree program was the result of Senate Bill 1440, enacted in 2010. The bill mandated that the CSU and community college systems work together to streamline the transfer pathway between the two systems.

Community college presidents have been given a goal by the community college Board of Governors to have 80 percent of degree pathways available by this coming fall.

Community colleges in California began rolling out the new degrees in 2011, starting with majors at each school with the most students. The 112 community colleges in California are offering 557 transfer degree programs.

Upon completion of requisite coursework, a student is granted admission to the CSU system.

According to Skinner, transfer degrees will grant the applicant admission to at least one CSU. It will not guarantee successful transfer to any or every campus.

Students who earn a transfer degree will also receive a bump in admission priority to impacted schools and majors in the CSU.

The new degree should cut down on unnecessary classes being taken at the community college level by standardizing the classes needed to be admitted to a school in the CSU.

This change will allow about 40,000 more students into the state’s community colleges, Skinner said.

Graduates will enter the CSU as juniors with 60 units, leaving 60 additional units of upper-division coursework to be completed.

Lower division unit requirements for transfer admission previously varied among campuses in the CSU. This caused students to take more classes than necessary in order to improve their transfer prospects to multiple schools.

The first wave of 120 transfer degree recipients came to the CSU in fall 2012. They were the only students accepted as transfers after the CSU decided to close spring transfer admission as a result of budget cuts.

Fullerton College is one of the top schools to implement the transfer degrees. They currently offer 18 transfer degree programs, with more on the way.

Community college students who have been working on an associate degree during this transitional period should be able to parlay their completed courses into the new degree without difficulty.

“Senate Bill 1440 and the new associate degree for transfer are initiatives aimed at making sure our transfer function works exceptionally well for our students, but it isn’t the only thing we do,” said Skinner.

Other functions of the community college system, such as vocational and basic skills training, should not be affected by the new program.

In the wake of devastating budget cuts at the community college level, students at that level have been coping with an overcrowding of required classes due to a reduction of course sections.

Cal State University executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer Ephraim P. Smith hopes the transfer degree, along with an improved state budget, will increase CSU enrollment. Enrollment to the CSU has been down in recent years, according to the vice chancellor.

“We have two forces working here, one would be an improved state budget and the other would be the associate degree for transfer,” said Smith. “If they both come at the same time, we should be able to accommodate all of these students.”

The passage of Proposition 30 has helped community colleges this year with a funding boost of nearly $210 million, though schools around the state are still struggling after having more than $800 million in cuts in recent years. Hundreds of thousands of students have been turned away the semesters following the cuts.

Those who can get into classes are faced with a larger class size, and are paying more per unit than they were just a few years ago.

The transfer degrees come as a response to a trend found by the California Legislative Analyst’s Office. A 2010 study revealed that transfer students generally graduated the CSU with more than 40 excess units. Former chancellor Jack Scott pointed out that taxpayers spent $28 million on these excess units.

About Samuel Mountjoy

Sam is a senior journalism major who has been working in student publications since high school. He was previously the editor-in-chief of a community college newspaper in the Palm Springs area. His first Titan byline came less than two months after he transferred to CSUF. Sam has been known to chase after sirens in hopes of a story, and hopes to soon become a professional news reporter.