How to track student records when colleges close or merge

COVID expect to force more colleges to consider major changes
By: | October 5, 2020
(GettyImages/Klaus Vedfelt)

“Merger” and “shutdown” are two words no college and university administrator wants to add to their operational vocabulary.

But one or the other may be a matter of survival for a number of institutions in the COVID-era, and one key to success is securing the records of students from the institution that is closing.

Best practices for this process are detailed in a new report from AACRAO, the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.

Here’s a partial checklist for closing institutions:

  • Notify current and former students of the deadline for requests to change records.
  • Determine an effective date for the transfer of records. After that, all records requests should be directed to the receiving institution.
  • Create an inventory of all student files, listing record types, file formats and the years/population of students for each format.
  • Records from the closing institution should ideally be provided to the receiving institution/entity electronically or in the original file format.
  • Consider removing all holds that would prevent a student from receiving a diploma or transcript if the financial obligation will not follow the students’ records to the receiving institution.

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The report also covers:

  • FERPA considerations for closing institutions
  • How institutions manage teach out plans in which the closing school allows its students to complete their education within a specific period of time.
  • Guidance for merging two schools learning management systems and how to conduct degree audits to help students understand the remaining requirements.
  • Transferring credits, syllabi and course catalogs.
  • Considerations for recordkeeping technology in mergers and closings.