Cleveland State Community College will soon be implementing a system to allow graduates of certain programs to receive warranties for their degrees.
The Tennessee Board of Regents, which governs all of the state’s community colleges, recently approved a warranty program to guarantee “that future graduates of technical programs demonstrate skills identified in their curriculums.”
Beginning with students starting new programs during the fall 2018 semester, graduates from select areas of study will be given warranty cards along with their diplomas.
“This is pretty special,” said Dr. Bill Seymour, president of Cleveland State “I think it communicates both to students and industry leaders that the colleges of Tennessee stand behind our instruction and our quality.”
This warranty will apply to graduates of any TBR institution who earn an associate of applied science degree, diploma or technical certificate of credit. Along with Cleveland State, this will be offered at any of the state’s other 12 community colleges or 27 Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology.
If a graduate and his or her employer believe the graduate did not learn the skills promised by the college program in question, they will be able to jointly fill out a warranty claim form. Once this warranty redemption is approved, the graduate will be able to receive free retraining.
The warranty will be valid for one year from the date of graduation, and the retraining will occur at the college where the graduate earned the credential, at the college’s expense.
TBR officials say the idea behind this is to show the faith it has in its programs, while also helping ensure graduates are successful in the workplace.
"We have great confidence in the quality of our programs, and we have an obligation to our students and their employers to make sure that our graduates have the skills that our technical programs say they should have,” said TBR Chancellor Flora Tydings. "If within one year of graduation, an employer determines that a graduate of one of our technical graduate does not have the skills that we say we have trained, the college will provide retraining in the specific skill set, free of tuition.”
Tydings also said this program will help the TBR see which technical programs may be in need of improvement. The TBR plans to maintain a database with all the warranty claims, so it can help the colleges improve their instruction.
Seymour praised the warranty, saying it is a "really smart" way to ensure graduates and employers are receiving what they need from the state's colleges.
He noted it will not change how the college operates, because it "already stands by" what it does. He explained it is just that Cleveland State and other colleges throughout the state will now be standing behind their programs "in a very open and significant way."
The local college president added faculty in Cleveland State's technical programs already communicate with industry leaders on a regular basis to ensure that what students are being taught is relevant.
Most recently, this feedback has helped the college develop new advanced technology degree and certificate concentrations, as well as its Mechatronics Honors Institute.
“The warranty is simple: It basically says to our graduates that we stand behind you," said Dr. Carol Puryear, TBR’s vice chancellor for economic and community development. "And it lets business and industry know that we stand behind our graduates and that they can trust our graduates’ work.”