These consortia would need to be prestigious, Dowd emphasized. For example, a high level of prestige among the EBICs could motivate faculty to participate more actively in improving transfer processes. The transfer rate for the most competitive private institutions has dropped from around 10 percent of student enrollments in 1990 to a little more than 5 percent in the most recent available data, Dowd noted. Other institutions enroll a higher percentage of transfer students, but the percentages at these institutions also have been declining. “That needs to change,” said Dowd, because society “needs students who start out in community colleges and enter into the professions.”

Collective Observations from a Breakout Group on Transfer

Individuals from the breakout group on transfer issues began the report to a plenary session of all participants by emphasizing articulation, alignment, and advising. Articulation agreements could benefit from greater clarity in terms of their scope, application to practice, and sustainability. Better alignment is needed between two-and four-year institutions, which will require that faculty members work together and collaborate on these issues. The members of the breakout session emphasized that “alignment” includes social and psychological components in addition to academic and institutional ones.

Second, improving transfer of students could benefit from research that explores the incentives and disincentives for effective transfer that can then drive changes in these incentives. For example, how might funding agencies promote incentives and diminish recognized barriers such as the cultural differences between institutions? State rankings of articulation and transfer policies based on research also might be a way to drive change.

Third, federal funding that allows students to have paid STEM-specific experiences— for example, through work-study or internship programs—could encourage more students to pursue STEM careers that would require successful transfer to four-year institutions.


Discussions on transfer issues during the summit centered on two broad issues—pathways and partnerships.

As opposed to the traditional image of a pipeline leading from K-12 education through college to graduate school and a career as a scientist or engineer, the concept of “pathways” is more appropriate for community colleges. Students can earn a variety of degrees and certificates from community colleges and either enter the workforce or a four-year institution. In many cases, students with four-year degrees return to community colleges to receive more specialized training.

Historically, students who enroll in technical education and receive applied associate degrees have transferred a limited amount of credits

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