25 universities and colleges have come forward to be a part of an alternative credit consortium under the umbrella of American Council on Education. This pilot project aims to make the process of earning a college degree much more flexible for a huge number of non-traditional students seeking alternative education.
ACE is the most influential higher education association in America, which has over 1,700 member institutions. The association strives to overcome the sternest challenges in the field of education and streamline every student's path to success. The members of ACE are well represented on Capitol Hill, and its College Credit Recommendation Service ensures that non-traditional learners can attain academic credit for courses and examinations that are not in the periphery mainstream education.
The 25 institutions that have taken part in the ACE project have come to terms on accepting all or most of the transfer credit required by students who have completed handpicked categories of an estimated 100 low cost or no cost online courses belonging to lower division general education.
Northwestern State University, a Louisiana-based institution, is one of the participants. NSU Provost and Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs Dr. Lisa Abney has spoken out about the merits of this project.
"Projects such as this one provide avenues for our students to help them to move toward graduation by incorporating our existing efforts in Prior Learning Assessment and expanding them"
The members are a diverse group of institutions, including four-year and two-year, public and private, non-profit and for-profit colleges and universities that are well reputed for providing access and attainment to non-traditional learners. The institutions have agreed to submit anonymous data to ACE that will reveal important details such as the amount of credit their institution accepts and the advancement and success rates of students who are directly involved with this project.
The project was facilitated by a munificent funding of $1.89 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The primary focus of this initiative is to aid some 31 million students who are yet to attain a degree or credential despite completing considerable postsecondary coursework.
In the words of ACE president Molly Corbett Board:
"The institutions serving in this pilot project will play a valuable role in helping enhance the work we have been doing for many years in developing quality mechanisms for determining the creditworthiness of education, training and life experiences outside of a formal higher education classroom setting".
In addition, ACE hopes to make further progress in the area of college credit recommendations by creating guidelines for issuing recommendations for digital micro-credentials, competency-based programs, and non-degree certificate programs.
The assistant vice president of ACE for education attainment and innovation, Deborah Seymour, believes that this pilot project will eventually lead to several long lasting benefits for the participants, for the higher education community and for those in search of alternative education.