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Wayne State changes transfer credit policy to increase access

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Wayne State University

A university in Michigan is seeking to make it easier for folks to obtain a bachelor's degree after attending community college, by removing barriers to access such as artificial limits on transfer credits.

Wayne State University in Detroit is putting all transfer students at equal footing by accepting all credits earned in applied, technical or vocational studies - including from community colleges.

Mark Kornbluh is provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Wayne State. He noted that the average family income at Wayne is lower than at most other Michigan colleges and universities.

"This is sort of ingrained in our DNA," said Kornbluh, "that we're supporting students who have drive and interest but are coming with fewer resources to start. So partnering with community colleges is really important there, because it cuts the costs for college degrees significantly."

Kornbluh said previously, students could only transfer 12 credits from vocational training, such as training to be an EMT, for instance. But some of those programs require 60 or more credits.

He said eliminating that artificial limit will allow those students to pursue degrees such as in public health.

Ahmad Ezzeddine is the vice president for academic student affairs and global engagement with Wayne State. He said this policy will help folks who may have started a degree or credential, but change their mind and choose to pursue a bachelor's degree.

He added that collaboration with faculty for the program is key.

"The intent of this initiative is not to compromise the quality, integrity or rigor of our programs," said Ezzeddine, "but to remove what we think sometimes could be artificial barriers and allow students to proceed and make progress towards their degree."

More than 40% of undergraduates nationwide start their post-secondary education at community colleges, and at Wayne State about 45% of the student body are transfer students.

Ezzeddine said he hopes these transfer credit changes will remove barriers for even more students.

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