The University of Arkansas at Little Rock and UA-Pulaski Technical College announced a collaborative agreement beginning this fall to help students and families significantly reduce the cost of a four-year bachelor’s degree and to increase the number of college graduates in central Arkansas.
University of Arkansas System President Donald R. Bobbitt, UA-Pulaski Technical College President Margaret Ellibee, and University of Arkansas at Little Rock Chancellor Andrew Rogerson unveiled the Metro 2 + 2 Degree program Aug. 10 at a news conference at the UA System office in Little Rock.
The Metro Degree is a re-engineered articulation agreement between the two institutions. Students complete their first two years at UA-PTC in one of four degree areas and then transfer to UA Little Rock for their final two years. They can choose among 44 bachelor’s degrees in the agreement.
As an additional cost savings, UA Little Rock announced a partnership with Rock Region METRO to provide free bus rides to students enrolled at the university. Last year, UA-PTC signed a similar partnership with Rock Region METRO. The transit pass allows students to ride to and from both campuses at no cost and have free rides at any time on Rock Region buses and trolleys.
Through the universal pass program with Rock Region, UA Little Rock covers one monthly flat fee to Rock Region METRO in exchange for the ability for all UA Little Rock students, faculty and staff to have unlimited use of the bus and streetcar system. With transit partnerships now at both campuses, students choosing the Metro Degree option will have four years of free transportation.
“As the state’s largest public university system, it’s our responsibility to use all available resources as efficiently as possible,” Bobbitt said. “That includes finding ways to work collaboratively as a system to give students more affordable and accessible options. This is a great example of the UA System institutions working together to accomplish that goal.”
Another way for students to reduce college costs is to apply for scholarships, grants and financial aid. In 2016, UA Little Rock awarded more than $1 million in scholarships to students who transferred from UA-PTC.
“The Metro Degree is specifically designed to help families and students streamline a quality, four-year degree,” Ellibee said. “What’s new and exciting about this program is that we worked together with UA Little Rock to refine the transfer experience to be seamless and foolproof in very specific ways. That includes removing obstacles to success, like classes that don’t transfer.”
College debt and college graduation is a concern for both chancellors.
“The Metro 2+2 degree is exciting because it provides a very affordable pathway for regional students to get a bachelor’s degree – and this fits beautifully with UA Little Rock’s new focus on affordable quality education and its goal to help many more regional students attain a higher degree without debt,” Rogerson said.
“Although transfer programs are common across America— and many of the students who come to the university have gone this route — with UA-Pulaski Tech joining the University of Arkansas system, we realized it was time to re-engineer the partnership.”
Ellibee added, “We are also grateful for the encouragement and support we have received from leaders in both cities, (North Little Rock Mayor) Joe Smith and (Little Rock) Mark Stodola, and from our Chamber of Commerce leaders, John Owens of the North Little Rock and Jay Chesshir of Little Rock. In addition to transforming our students’ lives, collaborative programs such as the Metro Degree also transform our cities. The majority of graduates from UA-PTC and UA Little Rock stay in central Arkansas.”
Arkansas has the third-lowest college attainment rate in the country at just 21.8 percent, close to 9 percentage points below the national rate.
“So this is a message for future students in central Arkansas — attend your local institutions, use public transport and complete in a timely manner — that is the power of the Metro 2+2,” Rogerson said.
In the upper right photo, UA Little Rock Chancellor Andrew Rogerson and UA-Pulaski Tech President Margaret Ellibee stand in front of a Rock Region METRO bus that celebrates the new Metro 2 + 2 Degree program. Photo by Lonnie Timmons III/UA Little Rock Communications.