HIGHER EDUCATION WEB PORTALS: SERVING STATE AND STUDENT TRANSFER NEEDS

Research Brief 

Issues related to the transfer of college credits are high on state and national higher education agendas. Concerns regarding the efficient use of state higher education resources and financial aid dollars, student mobility and credit portability, and degree attainment levels are factors that frame a number of state higher education transfer initiatives. Students who enroll in the nation’s community colleges so that they can save money may end up paying more than they should unless they have access to current, accurate information about how courses transfer from one institution to another. They may take the wrong courses for their chosen field of study, take courses that do not transfer at all, or end up in college longer than if they had not transferred, thereby negating any cost savings incurred from enrolling first at a community college.

It is hard to imagine anyone planning a vacation without searching websites for information that will help save time and money and ensure that the vacation meets expectations. Similarly, students need access to web-based resources where they can easily learn about the transfer options available to them—so they can save time and money as they strive to meet their educational goals. Over the last 15 years, with most emerging more recently, state higher education agencies and system offices have created websites or web portals in attempt to help students find their way through the articulation and transfer policy maze and make more informed decisions about their educational plans.

In November 2009, the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) and its educational technology unit (WCET or WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies) conducted a national survey and interviews to identify how states and higher education systems are using websites, web portals, and other web-based tools to help students navigate the transfer process. The study sought to answer the following questions:

  • How many states or systems have transfer web portals?

  • Which institutional sectors participate in state web portals and why?

  • What is the size, scope, and state investment in the development and management of transfer portals?

  • What technology tools are being used, are they effective, and what new functions, resources, and tools are planned for the future?

  • Is usage of the portal meeting expectations and how is that determined?

    This study is one component of the “Best Practices in Statewide Articulation and Transfer Systems” project, funded by Lumina Foundation for Education, and conducted by Hezel Associates and WICHE. This
    brief will help inform a companion project on college access portals being conducted by the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) and also funded by Lumina Foundation for Education. SREB is collecting ...

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