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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Taking out the guesswork

A new course numbering system, approved by the Arizona Board of Regents in December, aims to make transfering courses between community colleges and public universities easier for students.

The Shared Unique Number system is in the process of being implemented at Arizona’s community colleges and universities. Courses under the system are given a separate, distinct number apart from the individual university identification. Between 175 and 200 transferable courses will be mapped to their corresponding course at each institution and be made available via a searchable online database.

The Arizona university system had 9,222 students who transferred from community colleges in fall 2010, according to the Arizona Board of Regents’ website. The board hopes to increase this number to 16,000 by 2020.

Part of this process is ensuring transfer students know which courses are equivalent between colleges.

“”It’s kind of complicated,”” said psychology junior Jason Hill, who transferred this semester from Pima Community College.

Hill said he used multiple websites and the current course equivalency guide to determine what classes would transfer.

“”I had to check through a lot of sources to find exactly what I needed,”” he said. “”There were a couple (courses) that were named differently, so I had to explain that to my adviser.””

The Arizona Students’ Association proposed two course-numbering systems to aid this transfer process.

ASA used research from other institutions to recommend the common course numbering system, which would create a universal set of course prefixes and numbers throughout the state. For instance, an English 101 course would be identified the same way at all Arizona institutions.

Regents instead selected the Shared Unique Number system to implement, citing cost as their main concern. The common course numbering system would cost an estimated $67,059,931 to implement, while the estimated cost of the Shared Unique Number system is $4,689,053 to implement, according to an executive summary from the Arizona Board of Regents Academic Affairs Committee.

Elma Delic, board chair of ASA, said the Shared Unique Number system is a step in the right direction but not as effective as having common course numbers. She said creating common course numbers is not as costly as the regents proposed.

“”In all the research that we had, it’s nowhere near the cost estimate that they had in their report in December,”” she said.

Gail Burd, vice provost of Academic Affairs, said the Shared Unique Number system adequately improves the transfer process.

“”Most students are using the internet to find courses, so it’s just as easy,”” she said.

Burd said the work involved in changing course prefixes for entire departments makes it difficult to create common course numbers.

“”To change the prefix would cause us to change the whole system for maybe three courses that transfer,”” she said.

She also said many transferable courses do not have identical content, which would be required to unify course numbers.

The UA will also change the prefixes of tier-one general education courses to reflect the department offering the course, according to Burd. Courses labeled as “”TRAD,”” “”NATS”” and “”INDV”” will include the prefix of the department offering the course.

“”You’ll be able to transfer a course more readily,”” Burd said.

A small pilot program of the Common Course Numbering system will be implemented as part of these course number changes.

“”It’s something that can take a lot of time, but I think that’s OK,”” Delic said. “”It’s a complicated system, but it will definitely save students a lot of money in the long term, and universities as well.””

Martha Cordova, transfer coordinator at Arizona Western College in Yuma, Ariz., said she works with students each semester who have trouble transferring. She said the college has about 10,000 students, many of whom transfer to universities after about three years.

She said many students self-advise and don’t know how to check which courses will transfer and that the changes would be effective only if students knew how to use the new system.

“”As long as we provide that information to students, it will be very helpful,”” she said.

Theatre sophomore Helyann Fimbres-Berdine said the course equivalency website combined with a transfer strategies course made her transfer from Pima Community College a smooth process.

She said the new system might make the process even more seamless.

“”Hopefully this is going to make this easier, as they intended it,”” she said.

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