The University will consider overturning its policy on transfer students, which prohibits the use of external college credits to enroll after freshman fall, University President Christopher Eisgruber ’83 announced during Monday’s Council of the Princeton University Committee meeting.
Although many of the University’s peer institutions, including Harvard, Brown and Dartmouth, allow undergraduate transfers, the University ended this practice in 1990 under former University President Harold Shapiro.
“It was decided that requirements of a Princeton education are sufficiently unique that it would be hard for someone to come in and make the adjustment,” Eisgruber explained in an interview with The Daily Princetonian on Tuesday, following the Monday meeting.
He said that the administration was particularly concerned about preparing students for the University’s independent work requirements, which include two junior research papers and a senior thesis.
This major policy shift would require approval from both the Board of Trustees and the administration and is scheduled to come up during the administration’s strategic planning discussions over the next 18 months.
“It’s clear that transfer students have come to Princeton in decades past and flourished here, so it’s obviously possible,” Eisgruber said.
He explained that a transfer program would allow the University to admit students from community colleges, promoting more socioeconomic diversity on campus, as well as military veterans, who usually have college credits from before their enlistment.
However, Eisgruber also said that the policy change would require careful consideration before it could be implemented, and that the program would most likely provide very few extra spaces, a trend consistent with transfer programs at peer institutions.
“Still, those small number of slots can be very important to the students who receive them,” Eisgruber noted. “We might end up deciding that we’ve got the right policy right now, but I think it’s very much worth looking at.”
University Spokesperson Martin Mbugua declined to comment, speaking on behalf of the Office of Admission, citing that the idea was still in its early stages. Director of Athletics Gary Walters also declined to comment on the potential impacts of allowing transfers.
Eisgruber also discussed accommodating more students from abroad for both shorter visits and multiple semesters, even if this process does not take shape through a one-to-one exchange program with University students.
“Right now we do have some [foreign exchange] students who come here, but we don’t have very many,” he said. “What’s clear to me is that there is an appetite for this kind of opportunity, if we can provide it to students.”
Eisgruber also said that he supports University students who wish to spend semesters abroad, but that summer programs seem to be more popular for undergraduates.
“We bring them more summer programs because many students seem reluctant to spend time away from Princeton,” he explained.
In the recently graduated class of 2013, 55 percent participated in some form of international program under the University, according to University data. The University also offers 35 incoming freshmen the chance to engage in public service for a year in Peru, Brazil, India, Senegal or China under the Bridge Year Program before starting their academic career at the University.