Improving Transfer with Interstate Passport: A Project Every Institution Should Know About

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The US Department of Education has awarded multi-million dollar "First in the World" grants to 18 colleges, universities, and organizations that are innovating to solve critical challenges with access, recruitment, retention, and student success. At AI, we have interviewed each of the recipients to learn more about the projects these institutions are pursuing, how their approaches are unique, and what other colleges and universities can learn from these new efforts.

2015 was the second year of the First in the World grants. You can read our interviews with the 24 institutions that received 2014 grants here.

by Lisa Cook, Academic Impressions

Although the process of transferring general education credits between institutions has improved in recent years, it has not improved enough to keep up with an increasingly mobile student population. Students are often required to repeat courses at their transfer institution, slowing time to graduation and adding to student debt. Recently, the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) has been working on a solution: an Interstate Passport.

The Interstate Passport incorporates lower-division general education requirements as a whole, allowing students to receive credit for the entire lower-division gen-ed block rather than simply for individual courses — and eliminating the need to repeat courses after their transfer. “This is a way to streamline transfer. It’s a way to solve the issue at an early point in a student’s studies where we lose so many students out of the pipeline,” explains Patricia Shea, WICHE director of academic leadership initiatives.

WICHE has been creating the framework in stages and is due to complete the second phase this spring. Now with the help of a $2.99 million First in the World grant, they will work to scale and enhance the project by building a more robust and automated national data collection and student tracking infrastructure. We talked to Shea to learn more about this next stage of the Interstate Passport project.

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