Madison Area Technical College and UW-Madison are entering into a unique partnership that will allow MATC students who transfer to UW-Madison a chance to complete their associate degree with university credits.
Each year, hundreds of students begin their studies at MATC then transfer to UW-Madison. Some earn a bachelor degree. Others complete the 64 credits needed for an MATC associate degree.
But a third group earn at least 64 credits but never receive a degree because they enter a four-year program but drop out before completing it.
Under the "reverse transfer" agreement to be announced Monday, MATC students who earn 30 or more credits and then transfer to UW-Madison, can apply their UW credits back to automatically complete their MATC degree.
"An associate degree is recognized in the marketplace as a degree that may command a higher wage than somebody who just had some college and hadn't finished anything. So that's one advantage," said Terry Webb, provost of MATC, also known as Madison College.
Getting the associate degree also could help motivate transfer students to complete their bachelor's degree, he said.
Nationwide, there are just a few similar agreements, said MATC spokesman Cary Heyer.
"It's a relatively new concept," he said. "Certainly it's going to pick up. It is unusual to the extent that it's a two-year community college that's partnering with a four-year comprehensive research institution."
Webb referred to the "reverse transfer" language as "kind of a term of art," which may not "be descriptive of what actually happens."
"What it means is that instead of the traditional route where our students are transferring credits to UW-Madison, now our students are transferring credits from the university back to Madison College," he said.
Webb said that last year nearly 800 MATC students transferred to the UW-Madison.
Additionally, last year and in previous years, an average of 200 students who completed an associate degree at MATC transferred to a 4-year college. While the majority go to UW-Madison, others go to UW-Whitewater, UW- Milwaukee and other schools, Webb said.
A signing ceremony for the agreement is scheduled for Monday morning at the Truax campus.