Education Compact Explores Credential Repository

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Countless numbers of students begin their college education only to have it interrupted before they are able to complete their degrees. Family responsibilities, job changes and relocating to a different state are among the factors which force students to put their plans on hold, with many never able to complete their education once an interruption has taken place.

Gates Foundation

mortar boardOne educational group, the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC), will soon be exploring ways to help students complete their education thanks to a $100,000 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. That grant will investigate the creation of what is being dubbed a “multi-state credit repository” fashioned to reduce the amount of time students take to complete their degrees.

If the program is implemented and works according to what is being proposed, interested students who have stopped going to school could receive offers from colleges and universities to evaluate, geared toward helping them complete their degrees. Cost, accessibility, flexibility and number of courses required would be among the factors prospective students would choose from when weighing their educational options.

“A growing number of students are starting and stopping their educational careers over the course of several years, often times completing courses at multiple institutions,” explained MHEC President Larry Isaak. “Many times they are uncertain about the process to restart their educational journey and how to bundle their educational and career achievements into a degree or other credential. The Midwest-CREST (Credential Repository for Education, Skills, and Networking) would help facilitate this process by converting credits and other learning experiences into credentials that have currency in the labor market.” Isaak also noted that Midwest-CREST would help reduce the credit loss that often occurs when students transfer from one institution to another.

Credit Transfer

It may be that latter feature which could be of most interest to students. With workers chasing jobs wherever they might be, a student who begins her education at the University of Illinois Urbana could end up completing her schooling at the University of Cincinnati if she moved to southern Ohio.

The compact, which was formed in 1991, consists of twelve states: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

The one year study by MHEC will be led by a steering committee made up of policymakers, practitioners, and industry leaders and is to include partners at the Brookings Institution’s Great Lakes Economic Initiative and the Institute for Academic Alliances at Kansas State University.

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