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Harford Community College joins Maryland Education Alliance, opening statewide pathways for student success

The recently formed Maryland Education Alliance is an innovative collaboration between six community colleges to increase opportunities for students across the state.

The MEA currently consists of Anne Arundel Community College, Cecil College, Chesapeake College, College of Southern Maryland, Harford Community College and Prince George’s Community College. These six community colleges serve nine counties in eastern, southern and central Maryland.

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The alliance creates opportunities for community colleges to share resources and expertise, meet community needs and generate cost savings for the colleges that can be passed on to students. The MEA creates a clear, seamless pathway for students to move from one community college to another, decreasing the need to run a highly specialized, costly and sometimes low-enrolled program at several locations.

This collaboration was born out of initial discussions between Cecil College, Anne Arundel Community College and Frostburg State University related to engineering courses and programs. Opportunities to share resources and collaborate to increase enrollment in low-enrolled specialty engineering courses, such as electrical or aerospace engineering, started the collaborative conversations.

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Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the dialogue continued, with the six community colleges hammering out the details and expanding to include other disciplines, such as healthcare and business. As the concept developed, it was shared with the Maryland Higher Education Commission.

The participating community colleges will serve as the governing body to meet annually to discuss issues, maintain smooth transitions and open communication. As the MEA expands academic program opportunities, other Maryland community colleges will be able to join to benefit their students as individual institutions can choose which programs to offer.

With the creation of an umbrella agreement, providing the collaboration parameters, each academic program shared under the MEA will be considered a specific articulation agreement between the institutions. These new collaborations will have a signed addendum by participating institutions, creating flexibility related to each program’s curriculum requirements.

Through the MEA agreement, students complete their initial coursework at their home institution, such as general education courses, before transferring to the receiving community college for the specialized discipline coursework. For healthcare programs, the home college would help develop agreements for students to complete their clinical requirements at a local healthcare facility.

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Students will complete their education as locally as possible but still have access to a program their home college does not offer. The added benefit is students can take advantage of articulation agreements, such as the one Cecil College and Anne Arundel Community College have with Frostburg State University related to mechanical engineering and electrical engineering, respectively.

The innovation and resource-sharing of this “students first” alliance create the synergy, access, and pathways to rapidly expand Maryland and regional residents’ opportunities to further their education and careers for a better tomorrow, according to a news release.

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