AUSTIN (KXAN) - In the midst of attempting to increase four-year graduation rates, The University of Texas at Austin has partnered Austin Community College to boost the number of college graduates in Central Texas by allowing students to combine credits to earn an associate degree – even if they transfer before community college graduation.
"This is win for everyone – most importantly, for our students," says Dr. Richard Rhodes, ACC president and CEO. "This agreement recognizes students' achievements and ensures timely awarding of a valuable credential to students who have earned it."
Reverse transfer programs such as this enable students to obtain a college degree if their plans change before graduation from a university by sending credits earned while working towards a bachelor's degree to ACC to fulfill associate degree requirement. Transfer students will receive their associate degree on the condition that they meet the same requirement of all ACC graduates and ear at least 25 percent of their credit hours at ACC.
ACC is the leading source of transfer students to area universities, with 406 of their students transferring to UT Austin in Fall 2012 alone. Overall, 43 percent of ACC's 43,000 credit students plan to transfer to a university.
Currently, UT Austin has the highest four-year graduation rate in Texas at around 52 percent, and is implementing a plan to increase that to 70 percent by 2016. While the reverse transfer program is not part of UT's plan to improve graduation rates, research shows students who earn an associate degree are much more likely to persist and complete a four-year degree.
"Reverse transfer is an important step in our continued commitment to improve student success," said Bill Powers, president of The University of Texas at Austin. "Earning an associate degree will help keep our transfer students on track to complete their next important educational milestone – their bachelor's degree."
UT will automatically provide transfer-student transcripts to ACC following each grading period. ACC will assess the transcripts and notify students when the requirements for an associate degree are met.
The associate degree is the fastest growing workplace credential. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 62 percent of the nation's jobs now require at least a two-year degree or certificate, a figure that is expected to climb to 75 percent by 2020.
"This partnership is a great example of the collaboration we must have between our colleges and universities to produce more degrees and prepare more Texans for the knowledge economy," said state Rep. Dan Branch, R-Dallas,chairman of the House Committee on Higher Education.
As part of the agreement, UT Austin and ACC will review the records of transfer students from the past decade who elect to participate. Additionally, ACC is exploring reverse transfer agreements with other universities.
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