A controversial Ohio law requiring colleges to begin offering degrees in three years is about to go into effect. Beginning this October, Ohio’s 14 public universities will be required to have in place plans for completing 10% of their undergraduate degrees in three years. The law also mandates that by 2014 60% of the degree programs being offered in Ohio have to be able to be completed in three-years.
Despite the shortened time frame, none of the credit requirements for a degree will be reduced. Credit reduction would have raised serious issues with Ohio’s accrediting body—the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
In place of credit reduction, universities and colleges are required to present a road map illustrating a path to three-year graduation that involves taking classes in the summer, testing out of classes, taking college courses during high school, and applying for college credit for work and technical experience.
Approximately 1% of Miami University students graduate in three years, on average 2% of University of Cincinnati students complete the requirements for a bachelor’s degree in three years. The percentage of Ohio State University students who complete their degrees in three years is between 2% and 3.4%, and last year Wright State University had a total of 12 students who entered college directly from high school graduate in three years.
The law, which was passed last year, was part of Ohio Governor John Kasich’s plan to rein in the cost of college. In addition to shortening the length of time for degree completion, Kasich also proposed that university faculty teach additional classes. Both proposals led to criticisms from the Inter-University Council of Ohio that state government was interfering with academic freedom. Kasich also recently caused controversy with statements about appointing “the best people we can with a business attitude” to university boards.
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