What the U's McMaster said about the cutback in transfer students


I spoke yesterday with Bob McMaster, the University of Minnesota’s dean of undergraduate education, about the decision to cut back a little on the number of transfer students the U will accept in coming years.

I had raised the question in a previous post about what that means for access for community college students as well as prospects for improved cooperation between the U and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities (MnSCU) system.

Below is part of the conversation. I hope to continue coverage on Monday.

The overall impression I had of his argument:

The cutback affects an extremely small number of transfer students — most likely those with below-average GPAs and who’ve not earned enough credits to prove they’re ready to transfer. The U will also tend to favor Minnesota transfers.

Here are three of the areas he discussed.

Reason for the cutback:

1) Lack of space. As the university increases the number of its science, technology, engineering and math students and improves retention, space will get tight.

2) Improving the transfer experience. Fewer transfer students mean the U can focus its resources on improving how it serves those who get in.

How many students will be cut:

Out of a total cut of about 300 transfer students, about 60-70 will probably come from MnSCU two-year colleges, McMaster estimated.

(The current average intake of 3,084 transfers will go down to a target of about 2,780, give or take a hundred or two, he said. That represents a 10 percent decrease in the number of transfers it currently takes in. But the U will give preference to Minnesota transfers, McMaster said, because “we feel it’s very important for the pipeline issue.”)

Who among them would tend to get cut:

Those with a small number of credits and low GPA face more scrutiny, though the exact bar hasn’t been set yet.

McMaster said students who come in to the university with 14 or fewer credits have “very poor retention and graduation rates.” When students enter with 25 or 30, though, “the student success rate jumps way up.”

Also, those cut would also likely have GPAs below the 2.5 – 3.0 range.

McMaster told me:

“We want a student to be somewhat of a proven entity. … We’re making sure we’re bringing in students who can succeed.”

  • Guest

    There is a flaw in McMaster’s explanation.  After reviewing enrollment data publicly available through the Office of Institutional Research (www.oir.umn.edu), you can find that while the 11 year average of new transfer students has been 3,093 per year (fall, spring and summer), the more recent 4 year average is 3,409.  By reducing the number of students to 2,780 we are actually dropping over 600 transfer students.  “Give or take a hundred or two” could be 800 fewer transfer students!  That’s 23% of the four year average as opposed to the /advertised/ 10% cut.  Assuming that his percentage of MNSCU students is accurate, that could potentially be 160-185 MNSCU students.  However, in my own experience with transfer students, the percentage of students coming from MNSCU two year schools is likely higher.

    However, to what I assume is one of McMaster’s points the enrollment of new transfer students has steadily grown from just over 2,500 students in 06-07 to over 3,500 in 10-11.  This is a concerning growth when resources (classrooms, advising, faculty, etc) are not growing at the U.