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Despite data, WCC continues short-term certificate strategy

For the past couple of days, I’ve written about WCC’s development of short-term certificates, despite evidence dating back to 2015 that these programs produce no economic benefit to either male or female students. That means, for seven years, the WCC administration and the Board of Trustees (who must approve the programs) have created and/or authorized programs specifically known to be worthless.

Short-term certificates are designated as those requiring 15 or fewer credits to complete. In this year’s crop of new programs, there were no new associate’s degree programs at all. Based on the analysis by the University of Michigan, the 9-credit “Entrepreneurship Essentials” certificate will generate $0 economic benefit to the earner. It is a piece of paper. Technically, each dollar that a person spends to earn this certificate is also a piece of paper. The difference is that one has actual value and the other does not.

The certificate program will have economic value to Washtenaw Community College, though. First, in the tuition ($990) it will collect from each would-be entrepreneur, and second, in the state appropriation formula, which rewards each credential a community college issues, regardless of what it is.

Five short-term certificate programs in two years.

WCC has ongoing incentive, therefore, to develop and offer essentially worthless short-term certificate programs. This year, the Administration offered up one short-term certificate, two (barely) long-term certificates (18-19 credits) and one certificate program that required more than 30 credits. No new associate degrees at all.

Last year, four of the six programs WCC offered were of the worthless short-term certificate variety. One program was a long-term certificate, and one was an associate’s degree program. That means the WCC administration was able to generate exactly one new associate’s degree program in the last two years. At the same time, they managed to come up with five new worthless certificate programs. (That’s not my opinion; that’s what the data show. Short-term certificates do not generate any economic return whatsoever for the earner.)

One program that has the potential to increase a person’s earnings and employability. Five that don’t. This approach doesn’t serve the students. It doesn’t serve the employers, and it produces no benefit for the community that funds it.

Who does this serve? Where is the benefit in any of this?

The responsibility for this failed approach lies with the Trustees who continue to approve worthless certificate programs. It lies with the Trustees who fail to hold the Administration accountable for the “change” they’ve instituted in Washtenaw County.

It’s time for the voters to institute a more specific kind of change.

Photo Credit: Antonin , via Flickr