The South Carolina Commission on Higher Education hosted a Transfer Excellence Convening on Oct. 4, bringing together nearly 150 transfer experts from institutions across the state and other key stakeholders to explore ways to improve transfer and articulation between higher education institutions to enhance the transfer experience for South Carolina’s students.
This was the second transfer convening of 2023 and furthered collaboration between stakeholders as the CHE works to implement recommendations of the South Carolina State Transfer and Articulation Action Plan, which was developed by the South Carolina Transfer Task Force and released in February.
“Today's event, in addition to the Transfer Task Force, and Transfer Council, demonstrates the agency's commitment to providing the opportunities for students and for engaging one another in identifying strategies and steps that will help transfer students keep more of their credits and obtain their credentials in less time,” said Rusty L. Monhollon, Ph.D., President and Executive Director of the CHE. “A comprehensive statewide transfer and articulation strategy and an implementation plan will reduce costs of post-secondary education and training, and it will improve access to degree or credential completion for students across the entire state.”
Transfer and the Workforce
In an update on transfer in South Carolina, Monhollon underscored the importance of effective transfer and articulation as a key strategy to ensure student success, ensure affordability in higher education, and ultimately strengthen the state's workforce.
Monhollon stressed the demands of today's knowledge economy, where more than 60 percent of new jobs are expected to require post-secondary credentials and education. He also highlighted the state's population growth, driven by migration, and discussed the changing landscape of higher education enrollments since 1970.
"We're evolving because the world around us changes," Monhollon explained, pointing to the demographic shifts of more non-traditional age students, declining enrollments, and the need for South Carolina to adapt to these challenges.
He also emphasized the need for all sectors of higher education in South Carolina to collaborate for the benefit of students and expressed gratitude in support from the South Carolina General Assembly and the Governor in recognizing the importance of effective transfer.
Transfer Leadership Council Established
Attendees received a comprehensive update on the current state of transfer policies and initiatives in South Carolina from Kristin Brooks, Ed.D, College Completion Manger for the CHE. This provided a foundation for the day's discussions.
Brooks recognized members of the newly-formed Transfer Excellence Council, which is comprised of a Transfer Leadership Team and four subsequent working groups: Student Engagement, Communications, Technical and Data, and Pathways. The Transfer Leadership Team is charged with guiding and coordinating the council and prioritizing the implementation of the SC Transfer Task Force Action Plan, while each working group focuses on implementing specific recommendations.
The council is made up of 23 two- and four-year, public and independent institutions from across the state, and representatives from the South Carolina Technical College System, South Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities, and the CHE.
“Transfer work, especially state-wide transfer work, cannot be done in silos, so the establishment of the Transfer Excellence Council was a necessary starting point to the implementation of the action plan," Brooks said. "This diverse group of representatives showcases the collaborative nature of transfer work."
“Student and credit mobility is a challenge for the long-standing, traditional structures of higher education," Brooks added. "The transfer council aims to break down the structural barriers to create a more seamless path to and through institutions. It is exciting, dynamic work that is necessary to meet South Carolina’s higher education attainment goal."
Transfer in Action: Sessions and Panels
Convening attendees also had an opportunity to shape their own experience by selecting from five different breakout sessions, which included:
- Improving the Transfer Experience at USC Columbia: A Team-Based Approach
- Best Practices for Bridge Collaborative Programs
- Removing Transfer Obstacles: Meta Majors and Guided Pathways for University Transfer Students
- Common Course Learning Outcomes: A Pilot Project Paving the Transfer Pathway
- The Reverse Transfer Journey: A Partnership between USC Upstate and Greenville Technical College
In the afternoon, a student panel consisting of four current and recent college students offered a compelling firsthand look into the transfer experiences and real-world challenges faced by students. The video of the panel is available to view on the CHE YouTube.
Key Takeaways from the Convening
Brooks emphasized the following key takeaways during the final session of the convening:
Sustaining Conversations and Collaborations: Brooks urged participants to carry forward the momentum gained during the convening, stating the importance of continued conversations on and off campus in between annual events. The CHE maintains a Transfer Excellence Center web page to provide share transfer-related news and resources.
Open Invitations for Engagement: Addressing the needs of the Transfer Excellence Council, Brooks extended open invitations to participants who may be interested in joining the effort as working group members.
“If you're interested in participating, go back, talk to your leadership, and see if those are areas that you're able to and want to contribute to," Brooks added.
Surveying Institutions and Students: Surveys are being developed for distribution to institutions and students, focusing on their needs and preferences in an intentional manner. There is a plan for future surveys to continue the cyclical work on transfer.
"We're going to be really intentional with how we're using them and what we're doing in our next steps. To ensure ongoing enhancement of statewide transfer, the Council needs to continuously engage with stakeholders. Surveys are a great way to this.”
Save the Date for Annual Convening: Brooks expressed gratitude for the participation and attendance, concluding with an invitation for next year’s convening on Oct. 2 as the transfer convening becomes a standing, annual event.