TAG Background

I. What are some of the major features of the articulation and transfer system that the Ohio Department of Higher Education developed under the mandate of H.B. 95?

H.B. 95 mandated that the Ohio Department of Higher Education establish policies and procedures applicable to all state institutions of higher education to ensure that students can begin higher education at any public institution of higher education and transfer coursework and degrees to any other state institution of higher education without unnecessary duplication or institutional barriers. The policy provided a means to ensure that transfer and “native” students would be treated equitably, with the same ability to compete for admissions to specific programs. The original policy (1990) created a means of student transfer through the development of the Ohio Transfer Module – a subset of general education courses that, when taken in its entirety, was guaranteed to transfer from campus to campus and provided a student the means to make substantial progress on general education requirements. H.B. 95 introduced new requirements regarding articulation and transfer to be completed by April 15, 2005. The essential components of H.B. 95 mandated the following:

  • Assure transfer of coursework and degrees without unnecessary duplication
  • Modify courses, as needed, to strengthen content and ensure equivalencies
  • Use a universal course equivalency classification system to eliminate inconsistent judgment in transfer credit application
  • Admit students with associate degrees to state institutions on an equally competitive basis with native students for specific programs, and with priority over out-of-state associate degree graduates and out-of-state transfer students
  • Full implement the Course Applicability System at all state colleges and universities
  • Examine the feasibility of developing a marketing agenda
  • Study the feasibility of credit recognition and transferability for an associate degree graduate from a career college or school

Ohio’s Articulation and Transfer Policy (1990) was a major achievement in improving the mobility of students among colleges and universities within the state. Policy revisions recommended by the Articulation and Transfer Council (2004), and further codified by the Ohio General Assembly in H. B. 95, extended the impact of the existing policy through more precise advising and the assurance of credit transfer and the application of credits to academic degree/program requirements. A central feature of the enhanced policy is the development of Transfer Assurance Guides (TAG). TAGs are groups of foundational courses that represent a commonly accepted pathway to the Bachelor’s degree. Courses or course sequences identified as being a part of the TAG may be offered at any public higher education institution in Ohio. TAGs are being developed to assist students in approximately 40 different degree pathways (see appendix for example) and are guided by the following principles:

  • The Ohio Transfer Module continues to be the foundation of the articulation and transfer work. The OTM provides students the opportunity to transfer courses as a block or on an individual course basis.
  • Students will also have the opportunity to complete additional courses found within each TAG and be guaranteed that the courses will transfer and apply to degree/program requirements. Each TAG may include recommended courses from within the Ohio Transfer Module as well as a variable number of introductory level major courses. This will provide a very powerful advising tool for students and faculty. Students will be able to plan a viable pathway using all the resources of the public higher education system – beginning at any point along the pathway, from high school through college.

H.B. 95 also called for colleges and universities to fully implement the Course Applicability System (CAS). CAS is an electronic advising system that more fully describes the transfer opportunities for students through a web-based portal. Many campuses are full participants in CAS. The legislation mandated that all campuses participate to the greatest extent in the CAS electronic advising system.

To increase the ease of transfer, we are in the process of planning a hub clearinghouse for electronic transcript transfer. This will also provide data to the Course Applicability System for currency in articulating courses. The result will be a more effective use of resources that accurately reflects student transfer and the application of credits to degree requirements in ways that are systematic and provide for better planning, advising and information transmittal through a statewide mechanism for sharing transcripts.

II. The mandated articulation and transfer program is due on April 15, 2005. Will Ohio Department of Higher Education meet that deadline?

The Ohio Department of Higher Education has been working with campuses throughout the past year and a half to implement the mandates in H.B. 95. This work has been on a very aggressive timeline and required that significant resources, both at the Department of Higher Education and at each campus, be directed to achieving consensus on the specific courses for transfer.

Pathways is being developed in approximately 40 different degree areas. Courses in each pathway, and learning objectives for those courses, will be identified by April 15. All campuses will have multiple opportunities to review the development of the articulation and transfer policy and the specific degree pathways.

Policy efforts have had leadership from the highest level. President Nancy Zimpher, University of Cincinnati and President Roy Church, Lorain County Community College, provide leadership for the Articulation and Transfer Council. The Council will make recommendations to the Ohio Department of Higher Education for the on-going implementation of changes to the articulation and transfer policy. Pathways in a few disciplinary areas may be problematic due to accreditation or licensure constraints. This may require additional work.

  • Even if such an articulation and transfer program is developed by the deadline, will all the campuses have implemented the system by then? If not, how long will that process take?

Campuses will need to “gear up” for the implementation and, in fact, 8 campuses are currently piloting the new transfer process as a first step in developing a statewide clearinghouse or “hub”. Students enrolled in courses in the fall of 2005 will be guaranteed that courses identified through the TAGs will transfer and articulate to degree requirements. Many of these students will also have completed courses within the Ohio Transfer Module. These courses are guaranteed to transfer. The Ohio Department of HIgher Education is currently working with campuses to identify a way of coding courses for transfer and is anticipating the development of an electronic “hub” for transfer of transcripts (see appendix for graphic). The result of this process would be an electronic system of transferring student information across all campuses – a type of student/academic “ATM” – so that students could easily access and send information among campuses. The long-term aim is to create a “one stop shop” for students – a portal for incoming information and for outgoing transcripts. In addition, such an electronic clearinghouse of information will provide high school students with delineated degree pathways that describe the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful at all levels.

The development of an electronic “hub” will be complex. Additional resources will be necessary. The request for resources to develop the “hub” is included in the ODHE budget request for articulation and transfer.

  • Will the mandated system make higher education more efficient? Attract more students? Graduate more students?

Students will more easily be able to transfer credits between campuses and be guaranteed that the courses apply to specific degree programs. This should improve the ability of students to make progress to degree requirements without duplication of effort – or cost. The overall intention is clear, however. Ohio needs more educated citizens. Ohio’s articulation and transfer policy provides an important element in the strategy for achieving such a goal. By making transfer easier, at every juncture, it seems likely that more students will pursue higher education.