Following last week's approval of the Chippewa Valley Technical College liberal arts degree program, many students from CVTC and University of Wisconsin schools are looking forward to the upcoming changes.

Under a new policy passed by the UW System Board of Regents, students who apply for the liberal arts degree will take two-thirds of their classes at CVTC and the remaining third at one of four UW schools, including UW-Eau Claire, UW-Stout, UW-River Falls or UW Colleges Online.

Nick Ecklor, former president of CVTC's student government, said students are pleased that the regents added options for students in Chippewa Valley.

"This is the first step in working together as a partnership between CVTC and the UW System," Ecklor said. "The biggest thing is mobility — students can now stay within Wisconsin."

Ecklor, a CVTC senior, said he is thinking of pursuing the degree himself, adding the skills gained from liberal arts training — in addition to a technical background — are what employers are looking for.

"I believe this option gives students the mobility to go through UW and have the opportunity to try a technical college and a UW System institution," Ecklor said. "This will allow a student to see what works best for them to earn their degrees."

Besides students, Ecklor said Wisconsin taxpayers are going to benefit the most, since credits will transfer from one school to the next. Before the passage of the liberal arts degree, students who transferred between CVTC and a UW school had to retake classes, which costs taxpayers more money, he added.

Ray French, president-elect of the Student Senate at UW-Eau Claire, said students on campus are generally supportive of the liberal arts associate degree, since it would provide greater access to students in the UW System.

"Students at Eau Claire view it as a way to build relationships with other students," French said. "Our hope is to collaborate with students at CVTC."

However, French said students are worried the new liberal arts degree program might not offer the same quality of education students get from other UW System degrees.

"We want to be sure students get the same education the degree promised them they were getting," French said.

French added students at UW-Eau Claire are a bit concerned that individuals who earn the liberal arts degree would receive a diploma that reads "University of Wisconsin," even though they took classes outside UW System institutions.

More students who are involved in the program, French said, should be taking more classes than the required one-third at UW System universities.

"Overall, we are supportive of the program," French said. "We just want to be sure the degree holds up to the same UW System quality."