Community College Research Initiatives

December 3, 2018

Data Note 5: How State Policy Impacts College Transfer Partnerships

Collaboration between community colleges and universities can be supported or inhibited by higher education policy at the state level. CCRI researchers present a case study about Minnesota’s higher education policy, and how it has generally strengthened collaboration.

Transfer policy has been a priority for the Minnesota State legislature since the early 1990s. Using data from the High Performing Transfer Partnerships study, researcher T. Ling Yeh mapped the progression of that policy, and its impact on collaboration between four community colleges and two universities.

In 1991, the state directed 2 and 4-year institutions to improve transfer policies by working together more closely. The mandate for collaboration strengthened throughout the decade, from development of shared curricula, to an eventual network of state colleges and universities. More recently, the legislature passed a bill to overcome the persisting transfer process complexities by encouraging inter-institutional work groups and a focus on develpoing transfer pathways.

Policy Impacts Collaboration, but Lacks Funding

Yeh’s analysis of these policies and feedback from HPTP interviews suggest the long-standing focus on transfer has shaped how college and university administrators, faculty and staff work together. In particular, the focus on pathways increased institutional focus on partnering to simplify the transfer process.

While legislative mandates help to encourage partnerships, faculty and staff interviewed in the HPTP study indicated that the state’s funding formula does not incentivize collaboration. One participant recommended the state create a funding model that rewards partnership. Another barrier to partnership that persists is lack of support for the logistics. Study participants recommended the state offer more direction and support for how to build and maintain partnership.

Collaboration Impacts Institutional Outcomes

Even with those barriers, the study revealed several positive institutional outcomes that result from collaboration. They are:

  • Increased awareness of student the transfer experience among faculty and leadership,
  • Improved faculty relations across institutions, and
  • Improved program quality.

For more information about these findings, download the full data note below.

Download Data Note 5


This Data Note is part of CCRI’s High-Performing Partnerships Study (HPTP) funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The study focuses on how higher performing transfer collaborations between two and four-year colleges and universities work on the ground. Researchers identified high-performing partnership pairs from a dataset collected for the national initiative on reverse credit transfer called Credit When It’s Due (CWID). Read the full series of Data Notes and more about the project here