Georgia students now will be able to transfer more of their college course credits between state technical colleges and universities.
The Board of Regents voted Wednesday to accept another 17 courses as transferable between the Technical College System of Georgia and the University System of Georgia.
"This is all designed to help configure our systems in ways to better serve our students," said John Millsaps, Board of Regents associate vice chancellor for media and publications.
Local educators are excited about the opportunities the decision will provide students.
"This is just incredible for our students because we truly are looking at seamless education now," Lanier Technical College Vice President of Academic Affairs Linda Barrow said.
Now a total of 27 classes have been approved as transferable. The courses include history, literature, math, biology and other general education courses that students typically take during their first few semesters.
"We're trying to remove as many barriers as possible," said Al Panu, vice president of academic affairs at Gainesville State College.
He said the decision is important for many reasons, the main being that it will save students time and money by not having to retake courses. In the past, students who took courses at a state technical college but wanted to transfer to a university would have to retake most, if not all, of their general education courses.
"We don't want to tell a student ‘Sorry, those don't count. Sorry, you have to start over. Sorry, you have to pay us more money,'" Millsaps said.
Millsaps explained that the Board of Regents has made sure there is a high degree of symmetry in these courses between both systems so that students, regardless of where they start, can get the same quality education.
Many students begin taking college courses while in high school. Students in dual enrollment will benefit by having the option of taking credits with them, no matter what they decide to do after graduation.
"If they decide to transfer, they would have the option and the flexibility to do that, and it hasn't been that way in the past," Lanier Technical College President Russell Vandiver said.
Vandiver said that in his 36 years with Lanier Tech "this is the single biggest thing to happen from the standpoint of allowing our students more flexibility that I've ever seen."
The decision came as part of "Complete College Georgia" an initiative to get more college graduates in the state's workforce.
According to "Complete College Georgia," by the year 2020, 60 percent of Georgia's workforce will need some level of higher education. Now only 42 percent of adults in Georgia have that skill level. That means the number of Georgians completing college needs to increase by 250,000 over the current rate.
"The idea is that you're not going to be able to do that unless you work together unless the university system, the technical system, the K-12 system work together better," Millsaps said.
To help create that partnership, students from both systems will present ideas on what works and what doesn't work Monday at a Completion Summit in Athens.
Colleges will also present their ideas on how to increase graduates.
Millsaps said the hope is that the summit will start the discussion on how to develop programs to help students.
"Going to college is tough enough as it is. We don't want to make it any harder than it has to be," Millsaps said.