College-to-university transfer means potential savings for students and government

TORONTO, Jan. 29, 2013 /CNW/ - Students who transfer from college to university to complete their undergraduate degree are likely to save themselves and the government money, and they often earn grades equivalent to students who go directly into university from high school, according to a new study from the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario (HEQCO).

College-to-University Transfer Arrangements and Undergraduate Education: Ontario in a National and International Context finds that in most jurisdictions examined outside Ontario, the total cost to students and the government of a degree earned through two years at college followed by two years at university (2+2) is lower than the cost of a four-year university program, with potential savings of from 8-29% per student over the course of four years. Study author David Trick notes that the 2+2 model is rare in Ontario, with most college-to-university transfer arrangements requiring additional courses that reduce or eliminate the potential financial savings.

The study uses published data on the transfer experiences in Alberta, British Columbia, Australia, New Zealand, Scotland and nine U.S. states, supplemented by interviews with higher education officials, and compares these experiences with recent data for Ontario.  Trick says that better college-to-university pathways could make an important contribution to meeting the growing demand for baccalaureate education at an affordable cost.  His study identifies three pathways for consideration:

  • Creating two-year university transfer programs at colleges in arts and business.
  • Expanding pathways from college career-oriented programs to university.
  • Expanding pathways from college career-oriented programs to college degrees.

These pathways are not mutually exclusive, according to Trick, and they could be combined into a system where every graduate from a two- or three-year college program with adequate marks would be guaranteed admission to a baccalaureate program in his or her region.

The study notes that transfer policies are part of a broader framework involving institutional structure, academic standards, accessibility, financial assistance and student services. Trick cautions that the transfer policy goals of other jurisdictions -- such as student choice, more spaces, less duplication of credits or smoother administration -- may differ from Ontario's goals. "The experience of other jurisdictions suggests that policymakers need to establish clear and quantifiable goals, including appropriate deadlines and accountability," says Trick, a former Ontario assistant deputy minister for postsecondary education and now a consultant in higher education strategy and management.

Watch a video interview with study author David Trick.

About the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario

The Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario is an agency of the Government of Ontario, established in 2005 to contribute to the improvement of Ontario's postsecondary education system.  HEQCO is mandated to conduct research, evaluate the postsecondary education system and provide policy recommendations to the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities on improving system quality, access and accountability.

SOURCE: Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario

For further information:

Susan Bloch-Nevitte
Executive Director, Communications
Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario
(416) 212-5242 /

Check out HEQCO online at
Twitter: @HEQCO

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