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Universities Respond To Increase In Transfer Students

By CityTownInfo.com Staff

February 17, 2009

The surge of students transferring from community colleges to universities has caused institutions of higher learning to react accordingly.

The Seattle University Spectator reports that the University of Washington has denied all transfer students for the upcoming spring semester due to budget concerns. The move was prompted by over-enrollment at UW, combined with expected cuts to Washington state's education funding.

"Admitting more students will only compound the enrollment problem," said Norm Arkans, associate vice president of media and public relations at UW, who was quoted in the Spectator. "With the pending budget decision, all admissions will be affected in the future."

Currently, UW's student body consists of approximately 30 percent transfer students, primarily from local community colleges.

Seattle University, a private school relying more on endowments and tuition than federal funding, reacted to the announcement with assurances that the institution would continue to enroll transfer students.

"We will not be cutting admissions in any capacity, especially when it comes to transfer students," noted Matisse Fletcher, who works in Seattle University's admissions office, in the Spectator. "We just aren't having the same budget issues that UW is having."

Transfer students make up about 28 percent of Seattle University's student body, with the majority of them enrolled in the school's nursing program. Although the institution's number of transfer students has fallen since 2005, UW's new transfer admission policy may affect that number.

Reflecting a national trend, the University of Maryland 's student publication, The Diamondback, reports that transfer student enrollment has climbed 16 percent in the past five years. Close to 18,000 students transferred to a USM institution last year, with about half arriving from in-state community colleges such as Montgomery College, Baltimore County Community College, Anne Arundel Community College and Prince George's Community College.

In a related story, California state colleges are attempting to improve the pathway from community colleges to public universities. The Contra Costa Times reports that the University of California and California State University are working with the community college system to boost enrollment of transfer students.

Rather than having a standard, accepted system for all transfer students, California's 110 community colleges now maintain their own agreements with each of the state's 32 UC and Cal State campuses. The move to standardize requirements for transfer is intended to simplify the practice.

School officials note that students have faced challenges transferring community college credit courses to four-year universities. Linda Michalowki, a vice chancellor with the state community colleges, told the Contra Costa Times that California State schools often expect transferring students to take courses not available at local community colleges.

"It's disruptive," she noted, "and it doesn't make much sense."

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