- Associated Press - Friday, December 26, 2014

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia higher education leaders are finalizing policy changes to help students more easily transfer college credits and earn degrees.

The changes were approved by the state Higher Education Policy Commission and the state Council for Community and Technical College Education within the last two months.

The proposed rules state that a school should accept course credits from another institution if 70 percent of learning objectives are similar between the courses at each school. However, officials tell The Charleston Gazette (http://bit.ly/1xnJo8W) that there may be exceptions if the 30 percent difference between courses is crucial.

Rules also would require four-year public colleges to notify two-year community and technical colleges about students that meet “reverse transfer status.” In reverse transfers, students who start out at two-year colleges and transfer to four-year colleges before earning an associate’s degree will be able to convert credits back to the two-year school so they can be awarded an associate’s degree while continuing work toward a bachelor’s degree.

Research indicates reverse transfers encourage students to complete the remaining 60 hours usually needed for a bachelor’s, “but even if life gets in the way they still have a degree under their belt,” HEPC Chancellor Paul Hill said in a report to the state school board earlier this month.

The policy changes would also allow students contesting a college’s decision not to accept their transfer credits to appeal to a new board established by the two state higher education organizations.

The higher education boards agreed to a joint resolution to pursue some of the changes now nearing finalization after Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said in his annual State of the State address that college students were reporting problems with transferring credits, and asked the Legislature and colleges to solve the issue.

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette, http://www.wvgazette.com

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