Chancellor Calls on Higher Education to Make College More Accessible to Transfer Students

Chancellor Marks and academic peers from across the country today released a report geared toward enabling more students to earn four-year degrees

March 22, 2021

An American Council on Education (ACE) Task Force, composed of 28 university leaders including CU Denver Chancellor Michelle Marks, today released a report offering best practices on how to modify existing transfer and award of credit practices to best support student success. Geared toward higher education leaders, the report offers six key recommendations for reexamining transfer processes to enable more students to earn four-year degrees affordably and effectively.  

The report, titled “Reimagining Transfer for Student Success: The National Task Force on the Transfer and Award of Credit,” comes at a time when college students are becoming more mobile, moving through multiple colleges, universities, and other learning environments, such as military service or the workforce. Nearly a third of students entering college for the first time in 2011 earned credits from two or more institutions within six years. 

Research suggests the majority of Colorado’s community college students (some estimate near 80%) intend to use their schooling as a pathway to a bachelor’s degree, yet only 14% of them graduate with that degree within six years,” said Marks. “It is critical that higher education institutions create more inclusive transfer policies and practices—the ACE Task Force report provides useful, practical recommendations.” 

Transfer student equity gaps have failed to budge over time, raising questions about the effectiveness of existing transfer processes. With the increased focus on racial injustice and widening socioeconomic gaps, the Task Force is calling on higher education leaders to reduce barriers for the most vulnerable students to enable them to transfer, persist, and complete their degree. 

“The global health crisis and the resulting economic fallout have widened equity gaps and threatened two decades’ worth of gains in access to higher education for first-generation, low-income students, and students of color,” said ACE President Ted Mitchell. “Improving transfer and award of credit practices won’t address all these unprecedented challenges, but it is a necessary and critical component to supporting student success going forward. 

The task force developed six recommendations for institutions, including greater transparency, innovative use of technologies, stronger institutional partnerships, and more. Click here for a full list of the task force members and to download the report. 

“At CU Denver, transfers make up half of our undergraduate student body,” said Marks. “We believe that higher education institutions should meet students where they are and make education as affordable, accessible, and effective as possible. We hope that this report serves as a stepping stone in reimagining our approach to serving transfer students.”