The University of Arkansas System has announced a new partnership between two of its institutions with a goal of boosting the number of college graduates in Arkansas. System president Donald Bobbitt unveiled the “Metro 2+2” degree program at a press conference Thursday in Little Rock.
“It’s more about making sure that we can get students into a higher education pathway that’s affordable,” UA Little Rock Chancellor Andrew Rogerson said. “This is what makes this pathway so attractive. This is the cheapest way to get a four-year bachelor’s degree, and we’re much more interested in affordability rather than total numbers of students.”
The program, which Bobbitt presented alongside Rogerson and UA-Pulaski Technical College President Margaret Ellibee, allows students to choose between 44 bachelor’s degree programs, spending the first two years at UA-PTC and then transferring to UA Little Rock.
“The Metro Degree is specifically designed to help families and students streamline a quality, four-year degree. What’s new and exciting about this program is that we worked together with UA Little Rock to refine the transfer experience to be seamless and foolproof in very specific ways,” Ellibee said.
Also included in the plan is a partnership with Rock Region Metro to offer free transportation to faculty, staff, and students for the four years they will attend the institutions. Rogerson estimates the cost of offering free transportation to be about $25,000, which will be absorbed by UA Little Rock.
He says, aside from the affordability aspect, the partnership will allow for greater efficiency for students seeking to transfer to UA Little Rock.
“A lot of transfer students come from Pulaski Tech already. When I looked at it, the average number of credits they came with is 85. You only need 60, so there’s an inefficiency there, there’s a cost inefficiency,” Rogerson said. “And then, a large number are coming in without an associate’s degree in their hands. So this way we make sure the student gets the associate’s degree, and then gets their bachelor’s degree.”
Students at UA-PTC will choose one of four degree areas to complete their associate’s degree before finishing their bachelor’s at UA Little Rock. Rogerson says the university hopes to broaden the scope of the degree program beyond its initial offerings.
“This caters to most desires by the students, and we’re not stopping here. We’re continually trying to articulate more of our programs. So the goal would be that every one of our programs will articulate eventually, but 44 is pretty impressive in the space of just one year,” Rogerson said.
Arkansas has the third-lowest college attainment rate in the country at 21.8 percent, close to nine percentage points below the national rate.
KUAR and partner station KLRE are licensed to the Board of Trustees of the University of Arkansas System.