By Linda Lockhart
Another community college has joined the ranks as a partner with Ohio University in providing a path for associate-degree holders to an accessible and affordable bachelor's degree. Sinclair Community College becomes the sixth institution to collaborate with the university to offer bachelor's degree completion programs that combine online classes from the university and the option of completing some required courses at a local community college.
Ohio University Executive Vice President and Provost Kathy Krendl and Sinclair Senior Vice President and Provost Helen Grove signed an agreement Friday at Sinclair's Dayton campus. It outlines the terms under which the institutions will work together in the spirit of the University System of Ohio to expand higher education opportunities for Ohio residents. Some aspects of the agreement will be immediate: Sinclair graduates can apply to the bachelor of technical and applied studies or the bachelor of criminal justice degree programs and begin courses this fall. The BTAS maximizes transfer of credit earned through a technical associate degree program, while the BCJ provides a convenient and affordable advancement path for those who have completed an associate degree with a law enforcement or corrections major.
More than 70 students already have applied for fall quarter to these programs through community college partnership agreements with Columbus State, Cuyahoga, Lorain County and Washington State community colleges and Hocking College. Most applicants to date plan to work toward the BTAS degree, although the BCJ program was just made available in July through this partnership approach.
"The partnership between Sinclair and Ohio University illustrates the degree to which higher education aims to serve Ohio citizens through close collaboration and the smart use of technology," Krendl said. "We are pleased to be able to offer students whose work and family circumstances prevent them from attending classes on an Ohio University campus the opportunity to experience the academic excellence that is a hallmark of our bachelor degree programs."
Ohio Board of Regent Chancellor Eric Fingerhut has challenged Ohio's colleges and universities to find new ways to work together to meet the measures set forth in the state's strategic plan for higher education, including the percentage of bachelor's degree recipients with at least one year of credit from a community college. He has stated that the result of creating opportunities for students to attend multiple institutions on a single campus will be powerful.
Neither the BTAS nor the BCJ are new programs. The BTAS is offered on all five Ohio University regional campuses for students who can attend classes on campus, and the BCJ is offered in Athens through University College. But delivering these programs online and giving students the option of taking some courses from their local community college campus allows working adults and others to attend school within their own time and distance constraints.
The community college partnership approach is an initiative of University Outreach, which serves students through distance- and lifelong-learning offerings. In addition to convenience, the programs provide affordable options for students who may not desire or be able to relocate. They also can save bachelor's degree students about 40 percent on tuition compared to a more traditional four-year residential campus course of study at an Ohio public university.
The agreement with Sinclair provides a framework for other initiatives, too.
"Both Sinclair and Ohio University desire to explore reciprocal options focused on expanding learning opportunities for students," Grove said. "Sinclair has enacted several of these types of agreements over the years to expand our students' options for continuing their education at many of the best schools in Ohio."
With enrollment of 24,000 students, Sinclair is among the United States' largest community college campuses. In 1989, Sinclair was selected for membership in the prestigious League for Innovation in the Community College, and since 2001 has been one of the league's Vanguard Colleges, a designation that recognizes the top 12 two-year institutions in North America that focus on student and learner access and success.
To speak with a media representative regarding this story, please contact Outreach and Regional Campus Writer Linda Lockhart at 740-597-2938 or firstname.lastname@example.org.