California students could see a simpler and faster transfer process from community colleges to the University of California and California State University under two pieces of legislation signed recently by Governor Gavin Newsom.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed higher education legislation at California State University, Northridge on Oct. 6.

Gov. Gavin Newsom signed higher education legislation at California State University, Northridge on Oct. 6. Photo credit: Office of the California Governor

Newsom signed Assembly Bills AB 928 & 1111 during a signing ceremony at CSU Northridge on Wednesday, Oct. 6.

Assemblyman Marc Berman is the chair of an Assembly committee dealing with higher education issues and authored both bills.

“When students discussed their experience with the transfer process from community college to four-year university their message was loud and clear: transfer is too complex, confusing and difficult to navigate,” Berman said in a news release. “Instead of being a clear path, it’s a maze, and it’s costing students time and money that they can’t afford,” he went on to add.

AB 928, Student Transfer Achievement Reform Act of 2021

AB 928 specifically addresses the Associate Degree for Transfer and general education requirements.

The bill:

  • Creates a committee with K-12, community college and university representatives, as well as additional experts to oversee the ADT
  • Sets the ADT pathway as the default for transfer students, with the option to opt-out
  • Mandates the creation of one general education pathway that community college students utilize to transfer to the UC and CSU

The Associate Degree for Transfer guarantees admission to a Cal State school, yet is underutilized and students still face obstacles, such as duplicate coursework.

The committee overseeing the ADT is charged with further streamlining the process for students. It is also charged with developing a communications plan for students about the ADT pathway.

By setting the ADT pathway as the default, the intent is to put all transfer students on a track, so that they are not aimlessly taking courses.

One general education pathway could help eliminate extra coursework. Currently, students have fairly similar courses to take to prepare for transfer to the CSU and UC; but each system requires extra courses the other doesn’t and do not fully align with one another.

It is important to note that under the California Constitution the UC has a high degree of independence from the rest of the state government, and this requirement would only go into effect if also approved by the UC Regents.

AB 1111, Common Course Numbering System

AB 1111 requires community colleges in the state to adopt a common course numbering system for all general education requirement courses and transfer pathway courses.

Each community college in California has its own course numbering system. Many students take classes at multiple institutions, where they have to interpret these differing course numbers and how they may transfer.

For example, freshman composition may be English 100 at one college and English 101 at a neighboring college.

This common course numbering system is intended to bring the same number to every GE and major preparation class at every community college in California, eliminating one potential source of student confusion.

Of the year’s state budget, $10 million has been allocated to cover the costs of creating that system.

President of the Campaign for College Opportunity Michele Siqueiros praises the new transfer school legislation and says dreams can now become a reality for students.

President of the Campaign for College Opportunity Michele Siqueiros praises the new transfer school legislation and says dreams can now become a reality for students. Photo credit: California State

President of the Campaign for College Opportunity Michele Siqueiros is among those praising the bill package.

“For the millions of community college students in California who dream of attending a university, today’s action ensures that dreams can become a reality,” said Siqueiros in a news release. “Fixing transfer is one of the most significant ways to improve student success, close racial equity gaps in higher education, and ensure our state can meet future workforce needs,” she added.

Both bills passed out of the Legislature with unanimous support, part of a $47.1 billion higher education package, the highest level of state funding in history.

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Ryan Billings (He/Him) is an aspiring writer from Westminster, CA.