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story.lead_photo.caption Students walk across campus on Monday, Jan. 30, 2017, at Northwest Arkansas Community College in Bentonville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- A new partnership between Northwest Arkansas Community College and the University of Arkansas will assist academically underprepared students.

The Transition Academic Program will enable students to take courses and share credits while pursuing an associate degree at the community college and a bachelor's degree at the university.

Selection

University of Arkansas admission counselors will identify and invite students eligible for the Transition Academic Program to participate. The program will initially admit 50 to 100 students each year but may be expanded in the future.

Source: Staff Report

The program is geared for "students who aspire for a four-year degree but aren't quite ready academically," said Jim Coleman, UA provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs.

Coleman was one of three higher education officials who gave remarks at an agreement signing Thursday at the Fowler House on the university campus to celebrate the program.

Students who don't meet the requirements for admission at the university will be able to enroll as nondegree-seeking students and take one course per semester at the university while enrolling and taking at least three courses at the community college, according to a news release.

The community college classes can be taken at either at the Bentonville campus or Springdale campus.

The program will launch in the fall semester.

Participating students can live on the UA campus. They'll take an introductory class on study skills and campus life, Coleman said.

Students who complete at least two semesters in the program and maintain at least a 2.0 grade point average can transfer full-time to the university while still taking courses for an associate degree at the community college, according to the release.

About 350 students transfer each year from the community college to the university, according to the community college.

That will continue to happen, said Evelyn Jorgenson, college president.

"This is a more intentional effort on the part of the university to look at some of the applicants they believe could benefit from time at a community college," she said.

Students must meet the community college's admission standards and have an academic record that suggests they can succeed at the university with the support of the transition program to qualify for the program, according to the release.

The educational institutions anticipate admitting 50 to 100 students to the program each year.

"This also supports the state's new orientation toward the performance funding model that we are now under while assisting in degree attainment from more Arkansans," said Joe Steinmetz, UA Chancellor. "That's extremely important."

Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed a bill in February 2017 that changed the way college and universities receive state funding.

The new model, known as the Higher Education Productivity Funding Model, prioritizes student success and program completion rather than student enrollment, which was the basis for the previous funding model.

"My goal continues to be increasing the percentage of Arkansans that are career ready and equipped with degrees and industry recognized certificates," Hutchinson said in a statement when he announced support of the bill October 2016.

About 22 percent of people 25 years and older have a bachelor's or higher degree in Arkansas, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Arkansas ranks 47th in the nation of how many people in each state have higher education degrees, according to a 2018 Forbes article.

The Transition Academic Program can help Arkansas climb higher on that ranking, Steinmetz said. Degree attainment plays an important role in economic development and business recruitment to the state, he added.

NW News on 01/11/2019

Print Headline: University, college partner in new program

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