Admissions, Higher Ed, Pathways

3 Reasons to Develop a Course Sharing Strategy

Parchment Staff  •  Aug 02, 2023  •  Blog
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Colleges and universities faced their fair share of challenges over the past year. From rising inflation erasing much of the positive news around endowment gains and funding increases to enrollments that have not completely bounced back post-pandemic, it’s clear that tough times are ahead.

But difficult times often lead to innovation and change. Like-minded institutional leaders are exploring new ways to collaborate. New strategies are emerging that will help to improve transfer credit processes, prevent credit loss, and keep students on track to completion. More institutions than ever before are developing a course sharing strategy to help improve student and institutional success.

Course sharing is gaining momentum amongst higher education institutions. It’s a strategy where two or more institutions collaborate to make their courses available to each other’s students to count for credit at their home institution. We believe there are three primary reasons why every institution should consider developing a course sharing strategy.

Three Reasons to Consider a Course Sharing Strategy

1. Course Sharing Helps Keep Students on Track

Recent data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center shows that national college completion rates are flatlining. But the longer students take to complete, the more time — and money — they spend. As costs continue to rise, finding ways for students to reduce the cost of a degree becomes even more acute.

One significant barrier on the road to completion is course availability. Too often, students struggle to find the courses they need, when they need them. In fact, our 2022 study, Barriers to On-time Completion, reports that one in every two students was waitlisted for a course they needed to graduate on time.

A course sharing strategy helps institutions to overcome the course availability challenge by providing students with class options outside of their home institution. Through collaboration, institutions can make their courses available to each other’s students to count for credit at their home institution, giving them more options on when and where they can fulfill their degree requirements. And when these institutions have a course sharing strategy in place that leverages existing course equivalencies, students can feel confident that the courses they take will count towards their degree.

Further, when organizations provide students with additional class options that keep them on track, students are less likely to stop out or drop out. The result is that retention rates improve, and for institutions that qualify for performance-based funding, their funding may increase as well.

2. Course Sharing Boosts Enrollment

As student counts struggle to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels, many institutions are looking for innovative ways to improve enrollment and fill empty seats. According to the National Student Clearinghouse, nearly 1.09 million students have disappeared from colleges and universities since the start of the pandemic. And it’s becoming increasingly clear that enrollment growth strategies that worked in the past may not be as effective this time around.

Course sharing offers an alternative to traditional strategies to grow enrollment. Through collaboration, institutions can fill seats in courses and sections they are already running. They benefit from an enrollment boost as well as a cost-effective way to increase faculty utilization. Students benefit because they have more options to choose from. And the student’s home institution benefits because they can offer more choices for students without the added cost of adding more courses, sections, and faculty. Which brings us to our next point.

3. Course Sharing Expands Access

Access has always been a priority in higher education. But the pandemic cast a spotlight on all the ways institutions struggled in this area. Rural and placebound students found they were unable to access the courses they needed to graduate on time. While other students lacked diversity in their course options, which limited their academic opportunity.

A course sharing strategy helps institutions to overcome issues of access by allowing them to diversify and expand the courses they offer to their students. By collaborating with like-minded peers, colleges and universities can offer a more diverse roster of classes without the expense of adding faculty and sections to their schedule. And through this broader array of options, their students gain access to greater academic opportunity.

Steve Jobs once said “innovation is the ability to see change as an opportunity – not a threat.” Higher education is facing unprecedented change. And as we look ahead, it’s clear that institutional leaders need to think differently about how they address the challenges that persist. Course sharing opens up new opportunities for innovative institutions to address enrollment, cost, and completion challenges, positioning them to thrive in the years ahead.

To learn more about how Parchment’s student mobility solutions can support your institution’s course sharing strategy, please schedule a meeting.

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