FREEPORT (WIFR) — Highland Community College held a ceremonial signing of joint educational agreements between HCC and both Southwest Wisconsin Technical College (SWTC) and Blackhawk Technical College (BTC) on Monday, April 22.
Previously approved by the each college’s board of trustees, the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS), and the Higher Educational Aids Board, the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau recently gave the final approval for the agreement. The tuition reciprocity agreements took effect March 1.
The ceremony included officials from HCC, SWTC and BTC with opening remarks from Highland’s Dr. Joe Kanosky and Board Chair David Shockey. After signing the agreement, HCC officials led a tour of the Wind Turbine Technician Training Center.
Similar to agreements with Rock Valley College and Sauk Valley College, these reciprocal agreements now allow HCC students to access programs offered at SWTC or BTC that are not available at Highland. Students at the participating colleges in turn can also access programs at HCC not available in their home district. Students participating in these programs will not be required to pay out-of-district tuition and will receive the same priority for admission as in-district students.
“We at HCC are excited at the possibilities of these reciprocal agreements,” said HCC President Dr. Joe Kanosky. “As educational institutions, especially community and technical colleges, look to efficiently equip their campuses to meet the needs of the evolving student, sharing our strongest resources with each other will offer real solutions for students seeking an education in northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.”
Southwest Tech President Duane Ford said the SWTC programs selected for the agreement, approximately half of their offerings, not only have room for additional students but are in demand by employers. The 21 programs that Southwest Tech incorporated in the agreement include health care support occupations, construction trades and fire safety, while Highland’s programs include paramedic, tax preparation and wind turbine technician
“Southwest Tech has the capacity to serve additional students in programs that Highland does not offer and vice-versa,” said Ford. “By offering this agreement, we will provide residents on both sides of the border additional post-secondary education options. This agreement will also increase the pool of trained workers in support of regional employers.”
Alternately, Blackhawk Technical College students will now have the option to complete an associate’s degree in arts, science, engineering science, general studies or teaching through Highland in addition to nine occupational programs. Highland students will also now have access to 10 of BTC’s programs, including culinary arts, medical laboratory technician, human resource management and diesel/heavy equipment technician.
Blackhawk Technical College President Thomas Eckert stated, “This is a very positive outcome for the region in terms of workforce development. But equally important, by sharing educational program opportunities we offer students a much greater range of options, individually, to find the right career. We are extremely pleased to be a part of this agreement.”
To be eligible for a reciprocal agreement, there must be a current reciprocal letter on file at each student’s residential school that is updated on an annual basis. Students interested in exploring a program outside their home district should meet with an Admissions representative at their home school to begin the process.