Partnering for affordable higher ed

By CC Daily Staff

Two Arkansas universities are partnering to give students a more affordable path to earning their bachelor’s degree.

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock and the University of Arkansas Pulaski Tech have announced the Metro 2+2 Degree program.

Students who participate in the program will be able to attend Pulaski Tech for two years and obtain an associate degree. They would then transfer to the Little Rock campus and get a bachelor’s degree in two years as well.

The two institutions have matched 44 bachelor degrees with four degree areas at the technical college in North Little Rock.

“As the state’s largest public university system, it’s our responsibility to use all available resources as efficiently as possible,” said University of Arkansas System President Donald R. Bobbit. “That includes finding ways to work collaboratively as a system to give students more affordable and accessible options.”

Pulaski Tech’s Chancellor Margaret Ellibee said the partnership will help students owe less debt when they graduate.

School officials said the transfer process has been streamlined so that students don’t have to repeat classes they’ve already taken or complete courses for which they don’t get credit.

“What we’re looking at is not only quality education for our students, but an education that is a good return on their investment,” Ellibee said.

Streamlining the process

The chancellor of the Little Rock university said many people at the university are transfer students, but the merging of Pulaski Tech into the University of Arkansas System prompted officials to find a way to make the process easier.

Pulaski Tech became a member of the system in February. Ellibee says the schools have been working on the agreement since March.

Arkansas has the third-lowest college attainment rate in the country at just 21.8 percent, close to 9 percentage points below the national rate.

“So this is a message for future students in central Arkansas — attend your local institutions, use public transport and complete in a timely manner — that is the power of the Metro 2+2,” Rogerson said.

University of Arkansas at Little Rock also announced a partnership with Rock Region METRO to provide students enrolled at the school with free bus rides. Pulaski Tech entered a similar agreement with company last year, so students in the Metro degree program will have access to four years of free transportation.