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- June 2006 / Sandra Clay to have article published in respected Journal
Sandra Clay to have article published in respected Journal
Request grew out of session presented by BPC Registrar
BPC Director of Marketing
Sandra Clay has known for a while that a
certain issue in her profession – the
transfer of credit from non-accredited institutions – needed answers.
The problem was that all she had were questions and knew the chances were good
that the answers were eluding her colleagues as well.
She presented her questions during a session of the Southern Association of
College Registrars and Admissions Officers (SACRAO) Conference this past February
in Lexington, Kentucky. As a result, Clay has been asked to develop the content
of her session into an article for the respected SACRAO Journal. SACRAO is
the regional branch of the national professional organization which serves
the 13 southeastern states bordered on the west by Texas and Oklahoma and on
the north by Missouri, Kentucky and Virginia. The branch also includes Puerto
“To be asked is gratifying and humbling, and I have agreed to do it,” said
Clay. “In no way am I an expert on this issue. This (writing an article
for publication) seems like something other people do.”
According to Clay, a student who transfers
from a non-accredited institution to an institution which has been accredited
by a regional accreditation agency
normally loses all of their prior credit in the transfer. Thus, someone coming
to Brewton-Parker College – which is accredited by the Commission on
Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools for the awarding
of Associate and Bachelor degrees – would have to begin as an entering
freshman regardless of the academic level he or she might have already attained
at the non-regionally accredited institution.
“Being accredited by a regional accreditation agency is a valued credential
in higher education,” Clay said. “This means the agency has reviewed
your day to day operations and affirmed you meet at least the minimum criteria
set by the agency for your type of institution.”
There is, among tertiary institutions, a groundswell of interest in the issue
of credit transferability. This has been prompted by two fairly recent, but
growing trends that are distinct, yet related.
The first trend is the proliferation of
non-traditional education, whether because the school itself is non-traditional
(for profit; completely online
without any visible campus, hybrid institution with technical, academic, and
community learning components interwoven) or because the delivery method or
assignation of credit do not follow this country’s established patterns.
“It isn’t just the number of non-traditional schools,” said
Clay. “It’s the new educational environment in which the old patterns
of education are being stretched, changed, and challenged. It’s forcing
all of us to reassess our definition of what constitutes acceptable learning
The second trend is the increasing political interest in this issue. This
is causing concern among all levels of accredited institutional structure,
beginning at the top with the president of the college or university.
Several recent congressional initiatives have proposed tying federal funds
to less restrictive credit transfer policies. There has also been political
discussion of replacing regional accrediting agencies with a federal agency.
Both of these initiatives, while not yet strong enough to change the status
quo, have caused the professional community at large to begin rethinking old
assumptions. No one wants to face federally-mandated changes unprepared.
According to Clay, there’s a delicate balance between the needs of the
student and the needs of the accredited institution that must be created and
maintained. The need for this balance will be the focus of Clay’s upcoming
“My main focus will be how a regionally accredited institution evaluates
prior learning and credit from a non-regionally accredited institution in a
way that’s fair to the student and maintains the academic integrity of
the receiving institution,” Clay said.
Once again, Clay knows she doesn’t
have all of the answers to this issue, but would like to use the article
as a means of keeping the discussion going.
“This article will focus not necessarily on giving answers as much as
establishing definitive questions colleges need to be asking,” said Clay.
Mr. Tim Culhan, Registrar at Centre College
in Danville, Kentucky, believes that by developing her session content into
a journal article, the SACRAO membership
will benefit greatly from Clay’s experience in dealing with this issue.
“Her session was highly rated by those who attended and I’m sure
our larger (SACRAO) membership would benefit from an article by her on this
subject,” said Culhan.