In 2001-2002, Saigon Institute of Technology (Saigon Tech) and Houston Community College (HCC) entered into an agreement to offer Certificates and Associate of Applied Science degrees related to Computer Science Technology to college students attending Saigon Tech. HCC applied for a substantive change and was approved by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to expand its international initiatives to include Saigon Tech.

In 2006, HCC expanded the agreement to include other workforce programs as well including the following: Accounting, Business Management, International Business, Marketing, and Geographic Information Science.

Understanding the Process

In 2001-2002, Saigon Institute of Technology (Saigon Tech) and Houston Community College (HCC) entered into an agreement to offer Certificates and Associate of Applied Science degrees related to Computer Science Technology to college students attending Saigon Tech. HCC applied for a substantive change and was approved by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to expand its international initiatives to include Saigon Tech. Specifically, the Computer Science Technology courses (prefix IT**) of the Certificates and the AAS degrees are taught and transcripted by HCC as if they are taught by HCC faculty on any HCC campus. Regarding the Computer Science Technology courses, Saigon Tech is like a satellite campus of HCC. Course textbooks, syllabi, and content are parallel to HCC textbooks, syllabi and content. Saigon Tech faculty are credentialed by HCC Credentialing Office. HCC administration closely monitors the quality and outcome of these courses taught at Saigon Tech in the same way as it monitors courses taught at its Houston locations. These courses are taught “in residence” at HCC. In 2006, HCC expanded the agreement to include other workforce programs as well including the following: Accounting, Business Management, International Business, Marketing, and Geographic Information Science. That means that Saigon Tech students, taking any workforce courses in these programs, are taught and transcripted in the same way as courses taught by HCC faculty on any HCC campus.

The non-workforce support courses and academic courses that comprise the rest of the certificates and associate degrees in any of the aforementioned programs are transferred in through a foreign evaluation process. In other words, these courses are “transferred in” to HCC to complete the HCC award. Though these courses are transferred in to HCC, they are also closely monitored by HCC administration for quality and outcome in the same way as HCC monitors the program workforce courses mentioned above. The non-workforce support courses and the academic courses utilize HCC textbooks, syllabi, and content. HCC administration conducts site visits of Saigon Tech 1-2 times per year to insure the effectiveness of the instruction. HCC attends and participates in Saigon Tech’s annual graduation ceremony.

This memo outlines the process by which the “non-HCC” courses which are part of the Certificates and/or the Associate of Applied Science degrees in the aforementioned workforce Houston programs are transferred to Houston Community College from Saigon Tech. As with all courses taken at a higher education institution outside of the United States, HCC transfer policy dictates that a foreign institution evaluation be conducted by one of the HCC approved foreign evaluation agencies or by our own documented internal evaluation process.

The following is how ST non-workforce and academic courses are transferred by internal process:

  1. HCC first determined that the level of education offered at Saigon Tech is college-level, according to United States’ standards. That is, HCC examined Saigon Tech’s admission policies and processes to insure that all students entering Saigon Tech are high school graduates (i.e. completing at least 12 years of education), passing the Secondary School Leaving Examination. In other words, courses taken at Saigon Tech are determined to be the United States equivalent of college-level courses (see The Admission Process at Saigon Tech).
  2. In addition, HCC verified that all instruction of certificate and degree courses are conducted in English. Saigon Tech through its admission process, verifies that the English proficiency of its students is sufficient to insure success in the classroom. Students, who do not pass the English proficiency measures, take accelerated ESL training and examination before being allowed into any HCC workforce program course.
  3. During every term, Saigon Tech sends all academic and all non-workforce course materials to HCC to demonstrate the content and outcome of each academic course including, but not limited to, course syllabi, assignments, sample student work, and course exams. HCC administration examines and verifies Saigon Tech’s curricula verifying that the content of the academic and non-workforce courses are the same or equivalent as the same courses taught at HCC.
  4. HCC Administration conducts a site visit to Saigon Tech at least once per year, and often more than once per year, to closely monitor the instruction and operation of the school.

Therefore, institutions can be assured that when HCC posts Saigon Tech credit, either directly or via transfer, HCC stands behind the quality and the outcome of the courses taught and the awards produced at Saigon Tech.

The Transferability of Saigon Tech AAS Degrees

Career and Technology Transfer vs. Traditional Academic Transfer

Students come to college for many reasons. Some come to further their education. Some come to get a job as fast as possible (i.e. to make themselves more marketable). All students, however, believe that all education should ultimately lead to a career or to career advancement. The world of work requires education to get in, requires education to stay relevant, and requires education to change careers. Thus, lifelong learning is the paradigm that best fits the business and industry model of today. Students need quick and easy ways to access education as needed to make the necessary career moves in a rapidly changing world. This access must include access to differing institutions, access to differing states and countries, and access to differing educational models on an as-needed basis, all determined by the individual student. Sometimes, though, higher education is not as sleek and quick to make the changes it needs to in providing that access to students and thereby in delivering the numerous skilled workers that business and industry demands. In other words, the industry model sometimes does not match the traditional educational models. In the cases where students’ objectives conflict with educational pathways, it is imperative that students learn the rules and requirements that each pathway represents in order to navigate the various options. For example, many students do not understand that community colleges offer at least two distinct educational patternsleading to two entirely different educational objectives. Each pattern has its own particular purpose, and its own advantages and disadvantages.

  • The first educational pattern is the Academic Transfer pattern. The Academic Transfer Pattern means that you will be taking General Education Core Curriculum courses and some major prerequisites at the community college in the freshmen and sophomore years. The major courses of the bachelor degree will be taken in the junior and senior years at the university after completion of the associate degree. The goal of the Academic Transfer educational pattern is to obtain a bachelor degree at the university as the primary objective of one’s education. This pattern is often called the 2+2 plan. That means you can take the first two years of a bachelor's degree at a community college and then transfer to the university to take the last two years of the bachelor degree. This educational pattern is designed to transfer seamlessly to the university.
  • The second educational pattern offered at a community college is the Career and Technology pattern. The Career and Technology educational pattern means that you will be taking mostly technical job-focused courses and a few General Education courses for the completion of your certificate or associate degree at the community college. The primary goal of the Career and Technology pattern is to obtain the knowledge and skills to get a job as fast as possible. It offers short-term, up-to-date and relevant education using a workplace curriculum. It allows one to update his/her work skills, advance one’s career, and/or to quickly change careers. Career and Technology course credit does transfer to some universities and not to others. Career and Technology credit is not designed to transfer to universities. Career and Technology workforce credit is designed to get a job.

Neither pattern is inferior to the other. They each have different purposes and objectives, and as such, they each have their own strengths and weaknesses. The strength of the Academic Transfer pattern is that its curriculum is directly lined up with the university’s curriculum making transfer to the university seamless and easy. The weakness of the Academic Transfer pattern is that it does not provide the career and technology skills to get a job. The strength of the Career and Technology pattern is that it provides direct knowledge and skills applicable to industry enabling immediate job seeking to be successful. The weakness of the Career and Technology pattern is that it does not easily allow for transferring to a university to earn a higher degree.

So, how can a student who has achieved a certificate or degree utilizing the Career and Technology educational pattern transfer to a university for a higher degree? Is it possible? Yes, it is very much a possibility. The following options are available in the United States:

  • Transfer to a university that progressively recognizes the value of an Associate of Applied Science degree earned from an accredited Career and TechnologySystem P.O. Box 667517, MC 1132, Houston, TX 77266-7517 program. Houston Community College Houston Community College has developed numerous articulation agreements with accredited universities within and outside of Texas that do just that. Each agreement is designed to allow for most, if not all, of the full AAS degree credits to transfer and count toward the bachelor degree at the university with as little loss of credit as possible (See Career and Technology Transfer Options attachment). Many of the universities on the list allow for distance education online learning as well, so that a person can remain working at his/her job without having to move.
  • Stay at a community college, such as Houston Community College, a little longer to obtain the missing credits that will allow for a traditional 2+2 Academic Transfer. An AAS degree that is designed for the world of work will be missing quite a few of the general education courses that a traditional university will want students to have prior to transfer. The student may also be missing prerequisite courses for the university major. Once completing the missing general education and prerequisite courses, the community college student will earn a second degree (Associate of Arts) that is fully designed to transfer to the university toward the student’s bachelor degree major. For example, a student who has earned an AAS in one of HCC’s business programs will be missing approximately 37 credits from what a university will want that student to have completed in his/her first two years of a four year degree including: Humanities, Oral Communication, American History, Government, Business Mathematics, Natural Science, and additional Accounting and Economics. That is, for one year additional full time study after completion of the AAS degree, students will earn two degrees from HCC, an AAS and an AA. With the appropriate GPA, the student will also receive guaranteed transfer to a major university’s College of Business. A college counselor can assist in creating a transfer deficiency plan so that the student can facilitate his/her transfer goals, if choosing this option. What benefit, then, is a Career and Technology degree? If the AAS degrees do not transfer or do not easily transfer, why should students pursue this pattern? As stated previously, industry does recognize and value Career and Technology degrees. Business and industry professionals serve on our CTE program advisory boards. Career and Technology graduates achieve job placement rates of 85-90% with companies reporting high satisfaction with our graduates. Hiring satisfaction is the purpose of the Career and Technology educational pattern—job knowledge and competencies. However, preparing to get a job is not the same as preparing to get a bachelor degree. But, if an AAS graduate carefully navigates the transfer hurdles by choosing one of the two options above, he/she may find that he/she is better prepared to pass the university upper level courses than a student who only followed the Academic Transfer educational pattern.