A pair of new agreements between Sauk Valley Community College and Northern Illinois University will make it easier for SVCC students to earn college degrees that will set them on the path to career success.
In a ceremony Tuesday, the two institutions signed a new degree completion program that will allow some SVCC students to earn a Bachelor of Science in Technology degree from NIU without leaving the region. They also celebrated a reverse transfer agreement put in place last month, which will allow NIU students who previously attended SVCC to apply credits from the university toward the completion of their associate degree at the community college.
“Post-secondary education is a powerful force for career advancement, and a skilled workforce helps the region maintain its competitive advantage,” NIU President Doug Baker said. “Both NIU and SVCC are committed to providing affordable access to high-quality educational opportunities, and we are delighted to partner with them on these initiatives, which eliminate barriers and foster innovative educational pathways between levels of higher education.”
Online Degree Completion for Engineering Students
The agreement signed Tuesday is aimed specifically at SVCC students who have earned an associate of applied science in electronic engineering technology, heating refrigeration and air conditioning, multicraft technology or sustainable technologies.
Students who earn associate of applied science degrees now can complete remaining general education and B.S. program prerequisites at SVCC or NIU before taking their final 30 hours of technology courses with NIU, either online or at the university’s DeKalb campus. Upon completion of that work, students will graduate with a bachelor of science in technology with an emphasis is applied manufacturing technology from NIU’s College of Engineering and Engineering Technology.
“This is a great program for place-bound professionals who are working or already have their AAS degree,” said Cliff Mirman, chair of the NIU Department of Technology. “It allows them to take classes online, at their own pace, to earn a bachelor’s degree, which ultimately opens up many opportunities for career advancement.”
The online component features recorded lectures by NIU faculty, the opportunity to interact with faculty and an array of online materials that enrich the learning experience, Mirman said.
Promod Vohra, dean of the engineering school at NIU, hailed the program as a boon to the Illinois economy. “Engineers are the catalyst of innovation,” Vohra said. “We are excited about programs like these because they help ensure that our region will remain a vital player in the global economy by creating new engineers.”
SVCC adjunct professor Steven McPherson commented on the connection between the program and the expansion of local industry. “This program presents an excellent opportunity for industrial technology students at SVCC to continue their education and increase their value to our local industry. It also provides a great resource for local industry to help expand their trained workforce through a local program.”
Reverse Transfer Agreement
Also Tuesday, leaders from the two institutions celebrated a memorandum of understanding signed last month that will allow eligible NIU students who transferred from SVCC without associate degrees to earn the two-year degree using credit from NIU courses.
“It is a wonderful tool that allows students to demonstrate to future employers and graduate institutions their determination to excel, and another example of how institutions of public higher education in Illinois can collaborate to deliver high-quality, affordable education,” Baker said.
“These programs create crucial two-way communication between our institutions, providing a win-win for students at both SVCC and NIU. SVCC students can complete their credentials with us while pursuing their academic endeavors at four-year institutions like NIU,” SVCC President David Hellmich said.
A 2014 NIU Center for Governmental Studies report to the Illinois Community College Board found that an Illinois community college education increases earnings for workers, add skills to the state’s workforce and boosts the state’s competitiveness. An Illinois community college graduate can expect a total lifetime earnings gain of more than $570,000 – a 44 percent increase over the average total lifetime earnings of those not completing a community college program.