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UI forges online partnership with Iowa Central Community College

BY STACEY MURRAY | SEPTEMBER 17, 2012 6:30 AM

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Students from every community college in Iowa can now earn degrees from the University of Iowa without ever setting foot on the Pentacrest.

UI and Iowa Central Community College officials will sign an agreement today between the institutions allowing students at the community college to complete a four-year degree through online courses offered by the UI.

The signing will take place in the Iowa Central Community college board room, located in Fort Dodge.

In this agreement, the UI went through program-by-program and saw how the credits will transfer in and where they apply, allowing students to complete degrees online while paying UI tuition for online classes.

“The University of Iowa’s online programs are a great addition to Iowa Central’s already extensive list of online degree programs,” Dave Grosland, Iowa Central’s vice president of instruction, said in a press release.

Chet Rzonca, the UI dean of continuing education, said agreements with community colleges began in 1971 for those students who were unable to attend campus classes. In 2005, the state Board of Regents approved a Bachelor of Applied Studies online program, with Iowa Central providing 45 of the 525 statewide students in that program.

“The idea is to make it as easy as possible,” Lois Gray from University Communication and Marketing said.  ”Let’s say if someone has a family and they can’t afford to move to Iowa City, but they want a four-year degree … the demand is there that they created these opportunities for students.”

The UI will officially work with every community college in the state when the documents are signed but won’t travel beyond Iowa’s borders for agreements with other community colleges.

“It’s the university’s commitment to Iowa,” Rzonca said.  ”It’s in our strategic plan and the regents strategic plan at this point in time.”

While Rzonca believes the UI won’t work with any more institutions, he hopes to improve the working relationships that already exist with Iowa community colleges.

“We’re satisfied with the agreement,” he said.  ”We need to keep working with community colleges to see if there are other types of programs and degrees that might be provided.”

Among the degrees offered are the Bachelor of Liberal Studies, the Bachelor of Business Administration, the Bachelor of Science in Nursing and the Bachelor of Applied Science programs, with the latter in particular being developed because of the unlikeliness that community college graduates attending a traditional campus setting.

“There are a number of students that will benefit from any type of partner or articulation agreement we have with any four-year institution,” TJ Martin, the director of distance learning at Iowa Central, said.

While Iowa Central hopes to remain neutral while finding opportunities for its students, the distance learning opportunity with the UI is something they encourage their students to consider.

“The goal is that the student has a better experience when they finish a program here at Iowa Central and move on to a baccalaureate degree,” Martin said.


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