University Leadership Summit Spring 2019

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  • Why Institutions Should Improve Student Transfer Policies

    Mary E. Ostrye, a speaker at the marcus evans University Leadership Summit 2014, on improving transfer policies.

    Interview with: Mary E. Ostrye, SVP & Provost, Ivy Tech Community College


    “Transfer policies at universities and colleges are often inadequate, inconsistently administered, and not student-friendly,” says Mary E. Ostrye, SVP & Provost, Ivy Tech Community College. “Policies should not be about making things easy for staff but about effectively communicating what options students have. At times the transfer process can be so frustrating that some students give up and fail to enroll in a baccalaureate program. With college completion and student success as common goals, transfer agreements based on outcomes and competencies instead of seat time is a joint strategy for universities and two-year colleges to better serve students,” Ostrye comments.

    Ostrye is a speaker at the marcus evans University Leadership Summit 2014, in Palm Beach, Florida, October 16-17.

    Why is there a need for more effective transfers of students between institutions? How can they make student credits count?

    Meeting the nation’s aggressive college completion goals is partially dependent on effective transfer policies. Too many institutional and state policies are inadequate, not structured to support student success and are not understandable to students or counselors. Secondly, many agreements are dated based on traditional models of course-to-course equivalencies, without consideration of competencies and prior learning. Consider preparing agreements by first identifying course or program outcomes. How can institutions work closely together to assure expectations are clear, just as higher education is responsible to secondary educators to clearly define college-readiness?

    Academic advising is an overlooked area to facilitate and improve transfer. Not enough value is placed on the importance of academic advisors to the process. We spend a lot of time designing the curriculum, considering if the assignments are rigorous enough, which although important, is all for nothing if academic advisors do not understand how the agreements work. Many are poorly trained to assist transfer students. To further complicate the issue, advisors across campuses rarely talk to each other. Joint professional development sessions, for example, is one strategy to address this problem; so when an issue arises, advisors will feel comfortable enough to pick up the phone to seek clarification and guidance from the other institution.

    What is being done at the state level?

    Although many states have policies mandating transfer of courses or programs, legislators authoring these rules are not familiar with the intricacies of curriculum, learning outcomes, assessment, preserving institutional uniqueness to its curriculum, and other related challenges. Absent are clear definitions of transfer, making metrics difficult to establish. Setting effective statewide transfer policies by legislative action is complicated. Part of the solution is to intentionally bring faculties together to align curriculum and determine best practices for transfer students. Their goals are aligned. They want students to master the content, stay in school and succeed. Faculties must be engaged in the creation of policy.

    As a result of legislated action that was not overly prescriptive in outlining details of a statewide general education core, Indiana faculties from all public institutions came together to establish a thirty-credit hour core allowing for institutional uniqueness. The core is based on learning outcomes rather than on required coursework. Building on this is a legislative ruling to establish single curricular pathways for common degree programs, desperately needed in a state where the community college formerly managed over 95 different business transfer agreements.

    An institution’s transfer standards, processes, and expectations of students must be transparent and understandable to be effective. Even more challenging, however, is to address the controversial curriculum requirements that are sometimes based on faculty choice or institutional preference rather than on integrity of the program curriculum. For example, it is essential that a business major satisfy a science requirement with chemistry rather than physics? Policies that require redundant courses, or that require students to retake similar classes, are barriers to achieving the nation’s completion goals. A significant number of students start their studies, then join the workforce for a while, perhaps have children and then they decide to go back to finish their degree. They do not have time or money to waste on courses they do not need; nor can their communities afford for them to be undereducated and thus underprepared for the demands of a competitive global economy. 

    How could institutions gain financially from a better transfer process?

    Most universities have capacity at the junior level. Research shows they are more apt to lose students in the freshman and sophomore years, and that students who complete an associate degree are just as likely to finish a baccalaureate degree as a native student. Institutions can make up for the students they lost by bringing associate degree graduates to their campuses and filling up their junior classes again. Most states provide funding for completion, making effective transfer attractive financially for the receiving institution.

    Contact: Sarin Kouyoumdjian-Gurunlian, Press Manager, marcus evans, Summits Division

    Tel: + 357 22 849 313

    About the University Leadership Summit 2014

    The University Leadership Summit is the premium forum bringing senior level university executives and solution providers together. Taking place at the Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa, Palm Beach, Florida, October 16-17, 2014, the Summit includes presentations on successful strategic planning, keeping your institution and students safe and an interactive panel on how to control costs and ensure we plan for a competitive future.

    For more information please send an email to or visit the event website

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    Please note that the Summit is a closed business event and the number of participants strictly limited.

    About marcus evans Summits

    marcus evans Summits are high level business forums for the world’s leading decision-makers to meet, learn and discuss strategies and solutions. Held at exclusive locations around the world, these events provide attendees with a unique opportunity to individually tailor their schedules of keynote presentations, case studies, roundtables and one-on-one business meetings. For more information, please visit


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