Task force: NH community colleges should automatically accept high school graduates

David Brooks
Concord Monitor

New Hampshire’s community college system should turn its seven distinct colleges into one college with seven campuses, automatically accept New Hampshire high school graduates, and have its curriculum and academic credits aligned with the state’s university system.

Those are among the recommendations of a task force that has been studying the state’s two systems of higher education since last year.

The task force was created under Gov. Chris Sununu in reaction to a continuing decline in public college enrollment in New Hampshire and many other states. That trend is expected to continue because of declining birth rates as well as increased competition from private online colleges.

Students walk on the campus of NHTI in Concord.

Community colleges offer two-year associate degrees while the university system at Durham, Keene, and Plymouth offers four-year bachelor’s degrees as well as master’s and doctoral degrees. 

Many of the task force’s recommendations concern combining aspects of the two systems, which have traditionally operated separately, both to save administrative costs and to increase options for students. 

Among the recommendations is to get New England Commission of Higher Education accreditation for the community college system “as a single statewide college with locations throughout the state.” Among other things, this could allow students to take courses at more than one campus, such as a specialized class not offered everywhere, without having to re-apply. 

The group, which included lawmakers, education officials and business executives, also recommends automatic enrollment of high school graduates into the community college system, while the university system should automatically accept state community college students who have a predetermined grade point average.

Sununu will review the findings and recommendations “and work with legislative leaders to implement agreed-upon recommendations in a timely fashion,” the governor’s office wrote in a prepared statement.

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