Transfer decision lacks justification

The University has failed to explain how reducing transfers will help students.

Daily Editorial Board

The University of Minnesota recently announced that it will reduce the number of transfer students admitted next fall. We previously criticized this decision on the grounds that it reduces access to higher education for Minnesotans who choose to attend community college for academic or financial reasons.

But the decision has other problems as well, some of which cropped up in a Dec. 1 memo to âÄúuniversity leadership.âÄù The University claims in the memo that it is âÄúincreasing access for Minnesota students by âĦ increasing undergraduate admission to the science, technology, engineering and math disciplines and nursing.âÄù

But this bit of logic is contradictory. The University says it is reducing the number of transfer students to strain resources less but at the same time is increasing STEM and nursing enrollment without a corresponding increase in resources for those students. STEM and nursing students are crowding out transfers, and the University is selectively applying its justifications.

There is also a heavy focus on time to graduation in the memo. It notes that âÄútime to graduation is significantly longer for many transfer studentsâÄù and âÄútransfer students that bring few credits are much more likely âĦ to drop out or not graduate on time.âÄù But the University has failed to explain why a shorter time to graduation is inherently good. Obsessing over statistics ignores individual differences. Graduating in four years is simply not the right path for every student.

It probably isnâÄôt coincidental that four-year graduation rate is a major factor in national ranking formulas. With the administration focusing so heavily on time to graduation without explaining how this helps students, we fear that this decision is a cynical one designed to improve the UniversityâÄôs image rather than its substance. The University can alleviate those fears with a simple explanation.