Higher Education Associations Craft Statement of Principles on Acceptance of Credit During Current Emergency
April 16, 2020

ACE and five other higher education associations today released a statement of principles on the acceptance of credit during the COVID-19 emergency.

The principles model the integrity, flexibility, understanding, and compassion that are at the heart of the work colleges and universities are doing on behalf of students during this extraordinarily trying time.

The principles were crafted by ACE President Ted Mitchell and colleague presidents at five other associations: Walter G. Bumphus of the American Association of Community Colleges; Mildred García of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities; Mary Sue Coleman of the Association of American Universities; Peter McPherson of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities; and Barbara K. Mistick of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. The principles can be endorsed and adopted by institutions and other associations.

The statement notes that many institutions already are making decisions in this area that work best for them.

“One size does not fit all and that is not and should not be our aspiration. Similarly, we do not believe that there is one approach or one system that should apply to how institutions evaluate and accept credits when students seek to transfer between institutions, seek approval for non-traditional coursework, or apply to graduate and professional programs," the six association presidents state.

However, they add, “we do believe that there is a set of common principles that institutions should keep in mind when developing policies regarding credit acceptance. These principles seek to model the integrity, flexibility, understanding, and compassion that represent the very best of our diverse institutions and our commitment to our students and the communities we serve. The principles should also reflect an expectation that all institutions see the current situation as a unique one that may not be well served by policies and practices that seemed appropriate even just weeks ago."

For instance, the principles note that institutional policies and the evaluation of grades and credit should recognize the extraordinary burden placed on students during this time, as well as that traditional inequities are exacerbated in the current crisis and that “equal" treatment of students' transcripts is unlikely to result in “equitable" outcomes. They also note that “institutional policies and practices should, therefore, be as holistic as possible, taking into account the range of situational and behavioral circumstances in which our students find themselves."

To see the full statement and principles, click here.

This is a complicated issue notwithstanding the added ingredient of the pandemic emergency, and one that a number of higher education are also working on via the National Task Force on Transfer of Credit that ACE launched in late January with member presidents from across the country, including task force co-chairs Anne Holton, interim president of George Mason University, and Timothy P. White, chancellor of the California State University System. This statement is meant to address the near term emergency even as the task force works on longer term issues.

In the News

College Credit in the Time of Coronavirus
Inside Higher Ed
(April 16, 2020)