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Credit Unit Now Federally Defined: Education Establishment Unhappy

As of July 1, 2011, new regulations put forth by the Department of Education standardizes credit hours or Carnegie units

07/09/2011 // FL, USA // shosho // Dawn Sullivan

Like so many timeworn customs, US university students have traditionally been awarded degrees based on the number of credit hours they have amassed in the classroom, based upon the normal or average hours required by American universities per academic year.

However, this does not necessarily equate to the number of hours a student might accrue when studying abroad. Students studying at accredited universities overseas who wish to pursue graduate degrees in the US have been subjected to unfair discrimination that, until now, has run unchecked.

Universities in the US are often skeptical and even unjustly dismissive of three-year undergraduate programs, despite the documented significantly higher number of classroom hours that an overseas student will amass in the course of just one year compared to an American-based student.

To put this in perspective, universities offering three-year programs include Oxford and Cambridge Universities in the UK, hardly education programs whose integrity or standards have been brought into question.

The same applies to other nations who have emulated or been under British influence, including university programs in India, for example.

In fact, hour for hour, these foreign students have accrued 50 to 60 percent more hours in three years than US students do in four years. It is patently unfair, declare organizations fighting for greater equality, that these international students are being unjustly penalized when they work as hard or even harder than US-based students in similar programs.

Now, there is hope. As of July 1, 2011, new regulations put forth by the Department of Education standardizes credit hours or Carnegie units as: “an amount of work represented in intended learning outcomes and verified by evidence of student achievement.” There has been, not surprisingly, much outcry from US universities who do not want to lose their ability to apply subjective standards when assessing transferable credits of students who have studied overseas. But the Department of Education has stood firm.

In an era where education levels have been falling within the United States, it is high time that we began to establish a level playing field for students who have studied abroad at far greater intensity over a shorter period of time, instead of punishing them with capricious rules that vary from university to university. Some form of standardization must be implemented in order to protect every individual student who has studied at an accredited university, regardless of whether their program is identical based on an arbitrary time period to those in the United States. That time is now.

Social Media Tags:carnegie units, accredited universities, undergraduate programs, transferable credits, department of education, Credit Unit

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