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Published December 05, 2018
The University of Wyoming has joined a nationwide network of two- and four-year colleges and universities that allows students to block-transfer lower-division general education credits to any member institution.
The Interstate Passport Network (IPN) encompasses 28 institutions across 10 states and aims for comprehensive national coverage. UW is the latest institution to come aboard; Laramie County Community College (LCCC) is the other Wyoming participant in the network.
“The University of Wyoming is thrilled to be joining the Interstate Passport Network and provide this incredible service to our students,” says Kyle Moore, UW’s associate vice provost for enrollment management. “This opportunity allows us to better align lower-division general education learning outcomes with partner schools, improving the transfer process. Quicker evaluations of transcripts, reduced duplicate courses and faster time to degree are exactly the kind of attributes we look forward to extending to students.”
For decades, the headaches of transferring between colleges have been rigid and persistent: Each course being transferred must be linked, one at a time, with an equivalent course at the new school. This painstaking process costs colleges and students time and money. Students frequently lose credit for courses that do not transfer or have to retake courses to fulfill requirements at their new colleges. When that happens, some low-income and first-generation students simply drop out.
UW and Wyoming community colleges have worked effectively in recent years to bridge the gap, developing dozens of program-level articulation agreements that give Wyoming community college students the assurance that courses they are taking will meet requirements for bachelor’s degrees at UW. The IPN approach is similar, but it connects with two- and four-year schools outside the state and links programs based on learning outcomes rather than individual courses.
“Last spring and early summer, our University Studies Program committee worked with Kari Brown Herbst of LCCC, who also is the Wyoming state facilitator for this program. They evaluated the learning outcomes of the Passport against ours; developed a list of courses that meet the Passport learning outcomes and our own USP learning outcomes; and put together a series of courses that meet what’s called a ‘passport block,’” says Anne Alexander, UW associate vice provost for undergraduate education. “A student who takes these courses at UW will be able to transfer from us to other Passport member without losing general ed credit; likewise, we now open ourselves up to network students who transfer here so they will not lose their general ed courses. We’ve essentially eased transfer for students from other IPN institutions to UW.”
In today’s increasingly mobile society, more and more students transfer multiple times during their academic careers, says Patricia Shea, director of academic leadership initiatives with the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, where the IPN’s operations are based. According to the National Student Clearinghouse’s Signature Report 15 published in 2018, nearly four in 10 students will transfer during their college careers, and more than one in four of those will move to schools in different states. That means that, nationwide, thousands of students stand to benefit from the IPN once it is fully implemented.
“We’re delighted to welcome the University of Wyoming as a member of the Interstate Passport Network. Already, members have awarded over 36,000 Passports since the network’s launch in 2016. Students who earn a Passport and transfer to another network member institution know in advance that their lower-division general education requirements will be met, avoiding the barriers of an outdated transfer process,” Shea says. “The traditional transfer process often leaves students frustrated, and that sometimes leads to their dropping out. As the Interstate Passport Network grows, more students will be motivated to complete their degrees and become part of the nation’s future workforce.”
For more on the IPN, visit http://interstatepassport.wiche.edu/.