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Executive Summary
The Importance of 2/4 Transfer
The Different Dimensions of Transfer
The Accountability Problem and Transfer “Rates”
Research on State Policy and Transfer
Six-State Focus
    New Mexico
    New York
    North Carolina
Lessons Learned about State Transfer Policy
Conclusions and Recommendations
State Resources
About the Author
The Institute for Higher Education Policy
The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education

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Page 9 of 21


Arkansas is one of the poorest states in the country, and its performance on the persistence and completion criteria developed for Measuring Up 2000 put it at or near the bottom of the 50 states. The majority of undergraduate enrollments in the state are in the public four-year sector (51%), followed by the community colleges (38%) and private four-year institutions (10%) (National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, 2000). The average annual tuition and mandatory fees in 2000–01 were $3,388 in the public four-year institutions, and $1,497 in the public two-year colleges.


Arkansas has an institutional governance structure, with individual governing boards for each of the public two- and four-year institutions, and a statewide coordinating agency for higher education whose director is a member of the governor’s cabinet. The statewide coordinating board, the Higher Education Coordinating Board, has the authority to approve institutional role and scope and new degree programs. The coordinating board makes recommendations on the budget and is responsible for managing 12 state scholarship programs. Total state funding for need-based and merit-based student aid is $46 million. Of the 23 public two-year colleges, 7 are affiliated with and under the governance structure of a four-year institution. Roughly half of the two-year colleges have chosen to have an elected board; the rest chose to have an appointed board. The Department of Workforce Education in the Department of Education is responsible for state regulation of vocational and technical institutions.

Enrollment Planning

Arkansas expects to have flat or declining demand for higher education in the next decade, as the number of high school graduates is projected to decline slightly. Thus, the state’s plans for higher education focus more on improving quality and access rather than on expanding capacity. The two-year colleges have been the fastest-growing sector in the last few years, in part owing to legislation in 1991 that was designed to strengthen both the 2/4 transfer and the economic development and community educational roles of the two-year colleges.

Academic Policies Affecting Transfer

State legislation on transfer, enacted in 1991, established a statewide mandatory transfer core curriculum, now in place at all public institutions. Individual institutions may vary the specific course titles in the curriculum, and may require additional course work or specific grades for transfer. Students who complete the core courses at a two-year college know that the credits will be accepted and counted toward the general education requirements at the receiving four-year institution, and students who earn an associate degree know that all units will be accepted and that they will be admitted with upper- division standing.

Arkansas has also focused on improving high school academic completion for college and reducing remediation at the college level. A statewide remediation law requires all students scoring below 19 on the ACT examination to be tested and placed, if necessary, in remedial courses. Both two-year and four-year colleges offer remedial courses.

Data Collection and Accountability

Arkansas uses a student-based tracking system for annual reports that document retention, transfer, and graduation activity for cohorts of entering first-time freshmen for up to six years. For first-time, full-time community college students who entered in 1992 and then transferred, 33% had obtained some form of degree or certificate by the five- year mark: 18% held a certificate, 13% an associate degree, and 2% a bachelor’s degree. (Comparable figures for students at public four-year colleges were associate degrees, 2%; bachelor’s degrees, 25%.) Statewide data are not available for students who successfully transfer but do not obtain a degree or certificate, or for students who attend school part- time. There is no consistent statewide measurement or reporting of transfer rates, and success in 2/4 transfer is not tied to funding for either the two- or four-year institutions. Private college transfers are not included in state reporting. The 2/4 transfer rate calculated by the UCLA Transfer Assembly Project is relatively high—38%—because only 24% of first-time students are counted in the Transfer Assembly base (students who have completed at least 12 units).


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