What MnSCU and its student trustees told their board about transfers

A their regular committee meeting, trustees of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system discussed the report (above) on credit transfers requested by the state legislature.

You may remember that MnSCU's credit-transfer rate was one of the hotter items during last year's higher-ed committee meetings. Student complaints over perceived problems in the MnSCU's credit-transfer system prompted legislation that would have forced MnSCU to give credit for all classes, even if that credit would serve only as credit for electives.

That proposed legislation went nowhere, though lawmakers asked MnSCU officials to monitor the issue and report in.

What the report found:

  • MnSCU is seen as a "leader" in transfers, and already uses (or has set up) almost all the practices recommended by experts.

  • 91 percent of the students who transfer within the system do it without any problems.

  • The Smart Transfer Plan set up about a year ago to address the issues of the remaining 9 percent is "well on its way" to being fully in place.

  • Transfers are a "major priority" and will continue to be monitored.

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Associate Vice Chancellor Leslie Mercer told the board:

"We've been cited as a leader by some people. So it's like we're a prophet in our own land. ... I think we have a good story ere to tell to the legislature."

But two student trustees said MnSCU shouldn't pride itself too much on that 91 percent. Jacob Englund questioned Mike Lopez, associate vice chancellor for student affairs, who said the number of 91 percent included all students and all disciplines -- but was based on a sample. Englund told the board:

"I think that we do have some work to do. Ninety-one percent doesn’t really tell the whole story. ... (I for example) was not successful. I'm part of that (9) percent, and my story is not that uncommon. I think that number is all that uncommon." The appeals process is a laborious process for students. ... Let’s try and make that process (automated and) as easy as possible”

Fellow student trustee Brett Anderson seemed to agree:

"There’s a little more behind that 91 percent. Eventually they get in, but there are some roadblocks. We have to get a metric on satisfaction of the customer. This is one of the biggest (reasons for) the system. If we fumble this process, we’re losing a student, and Minnesota is losing another degree. We should focus … on the individual."

Trustee Duane Benson asked whether MnSCU should also keep close track of transfer rates for students who transfer to colleges outside of the system -- such as to private colleges, the University of Minnesota and colleges out of state.. And trustee Alfredo Oliveira asked whether a system of common course numbering throughout the system would help. But in both cases, MnSCU administrators said those changes would be complex and probably not worth their high cost.