Talking transfer: Equity, access, and mobility

March 5, 2020
  • AACRAO Publications
  • Pathways
  • Reverse Transfer
  • Transfer and Articulation
  • Transfer Credit Practices
two feet walking on sidewalk with arrows pointing in different directions

Transfer students are a unique population in higher education. Although some might consider transfer a specialization outside mainstream higher education, Janet Marling, Executive Director of the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students (NISTS) explained in a recent C&U interview why it is an important and timely topic.

“I think we can all agree that there is an equity gap in higher education, specifically around race and income," Marling told interviewer Stephen J. Handel, Executive Director of Higher Education at The College Board and a member of the NISTS Advisory Board. “Community colleges and other open-access, public institutions are often the most welcoming places for students who might not otherwise have access to higher education. If institutions are authentically interested in diversity, they need to take a close look at the students who are attending these institutions and who wish to transfer and earn, not just the baccalaureate degrees, but graduate degrees and professional degrees.”

Student mobility is also a factor.

“Students are moving between institutions, whether or not we're acknowledging it," she said. "The National Student Clearinghouse data indicate that perhaps half of all students in postsecondary education are either coming or going during their time in college. This is likely news to many higher education professionals.”

In the interview, published in the winter issue of C&U, Marling shares her college and career trajectory as well as the work her organization does to address the challenges of transfer students and the ways in which transfer pathways serve the needs of students, particularly those from underrepresented groups. 

“We are the only national organization exclusively devoted to transfer across the higher education landscape,” Marling said. “That gives us the opportunity to really delve deeply into the intricacies of this complex issue.”

Covering the complexities of articulation and admissions policies, financial aid, communication, orientation, advising, and politics surrounding transfer, Marling and Handel’s discussion offers a wealth of information and insight on the issue today. 

Other articles in this issue include: 


The Cambridge Program in the State of Washington: Students’ Characteristics, Courses Taken, and Progression to Postsecondary Education by Carmen Vidal Rodeiro and Stuart Shaw  


The IELTS Exam and Cut-off Decision: One University's Mistake by Ann E. Roemer 

Three Key Values of Generation Z: Equitably Serving the Next Generation of Students by David B. Johnson and Lindsay Welsch Sveen

Research in brief

Unique Characteristics of United States Community College Education Abroad by Rosalind Latiner Raby 

How to Identify Diploma Mills and Axact Web Sites, and Tools for Your Protection by Allen Ezell 

Campus Viewpoint

What is in a (Course) Name? by Stephanie Ntim, Alexander Taylor, Devon Cross, Rodney Parks & Caroline Dean 

Leading through Andragogy by Joseph Mews 

Considering Trade-offs: Evaluating Student Choice in Academics and Co-Curricula by Alexander Taylor and Christina Doherty 

Book Reviews 

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable reviewed by Leslee Clauson 

Our Higher Calling:  Rebuilding the Partnership between America and its Colleges & Universities reviewed by Wes K. Waggoner 


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