Pennsylvania state legislators are pursuing a bill that would require state-supported colleges and universities to establish a statewide core curriculum that would make it easier for students to transfer their credits between schools.
Sen. James J. Rhoades (R., Schuylkill) introduced the proposal of Bill 1147 during public hearings in late March. The proposal would affect all of Pennsylvania’s community colleges and 14 state-owned and state-related colleges and universities in an attempt to save college students time and money.
Temple opposes the proposal because it would directly affect the university’s transfer policies and core academic curriculum.
“Temple University already has in place a number of mechanisms to ensure the appropriate transfer of credits and to enhance student success toward graduation,” Deputy Provost Richard M. Englert said. “We believe that articulation agreements, when properly developed, provide deep alignments between the knowledge and skills that students master in community colleges.”
Articulation agreements, such as core-to-core transfer agreements, dual-admission agreements and program-to-program agreements, serve as an essential tool to measure and compare curriculums between community colleges and universities.
“Temple continues to support efforts that make it easier for students to transfer from one college or university to another,” said Mark Eyerly, the university’s chief communications officer. “But a statewide curriculum would ignore the different missions of Pennsylvania’s colleges and universities and would infringe on our ability [as an institution] to develop curriculum that is responsive to those missions.”
With articulation agreements in place with several community colleges in Pennsylvania, Temple currently admits 3,700 transfer students each academic year.
Currently, colleges and universities in Pennsylvania are responsible for setting their own core academic standards and deciding whether to accept or decline credits transferred in from other institutions.
“Since the faculty of each institution are responsible for curriculum and for negotiating the terms of articulation agreements, it is difficult to imagine a scenario where there is statewide consensus on what constitutes a core curriculum,” Eyerly said. “Articulation agreements take time and effort, but they work.”
“We have to remember that higher education is about the students, not the schools,” Sen. Rhoades said in a news release. “How frustrating it is for a student to attempt to transfer to another college only to find that some of the basic courses they completed at their first school don’t transfer? For students who attend schools that are subsidized by public funds, this simply shouldn’t happen.”
The Senate bill includes provisions that would require state-supported institutions such as Temple to establish a universal credit equivalency system, modify current core academic courses and eliminate requirements that would make students repeat a particular course.
Privatized institutions, such as the University of Pennsylvania, would have the option of adopting the universal credit equivalency system.
According to Pennsylvania’s Department of Education, a similar bill is also being debated through Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives.
If passed, the bill would take effect immediately and would require Pennsylvania’s higher education schools to complete and submit new transfer policies by June 30. Otherwise, policies will be developed for them by Pennsylvania’s Department of Education.
Maya Davis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.