UNI launches statewide initiative to remove barriers to high-demand careers in Iowa

UNI launches statewide initiative to remove barriers to high-demand careers in Iowa

University of Northern Iowa

In a major milestone toward reaching its goals of providing adult and place-bound learners greater access to four-year degrees, the University of Northern Iowa is launching the UNI@IACC (Iowa Community Colleges) initiative. Starting this fall, Iowans with an associate’s degree from any Iowa community college will be able to earn a UNI online degree without having to leave their hometown. UNI@IACC offers a pathway for Iowans who hold an associate’s degree from any Iowa community college to pursue a bachelor’s degree in several high-demand areas: Managing Business and Organizations, Management: Business Administration, Criminal Justice, Elementary Education, Human Services, Technology Management and the Bachelor of Liberal Studies. 

To put a bachelor’s degree within reach, UNI is also launching the Future Ready Scholarship Program to eligible participants in a UNI@IACC program. The Future Ready Scholarship comes with two years of eligibility and covers the difference between UNI and community college tuition. Information about the program and how to apply can be found at iacc.uni.edu

"I applaud UNI’s forward thinking to create greater opportunities and expand access to higher education,” said Gov. Kim Reynolds. “This innovative program provides students with the convenience of attaining a four-year degree without having to relocate to UNI. Through partnerships with community colleges across Iowa, UNI@IACC meets students right where they are in their rural communities, removing barriers that may have prevented them from pursuing higher education.”

UNI@IACC brings the personalized touch that defines a UNI education to adult learners throughout our state,” said UNI President Mark A. Nook. “One of UNI’s greatest strengths is our ability to identify and remove barriers to access and success that many learners face. UNI@IACC represents a major leap forward to assure access for more Iowans through this dynamic and innovative program that leads to in-demand careers in their hometowns. Many thanks go to Gov. Reynolds and her staff for their support of this important project that will improve the lives of Iowans across the state. We are truly educating Iowans for Iowa.” 

The UNI@IACC initiative, which expands the UNI@DMACC (Des Moines Area Community College) partnership that began in 2020, has received the support of Reynolds, who authorized $4.166 million in American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding to support the initiative. In addition to Future Ready Scholarships and enhanced pathways to access UNI’s high-demand academic programs, the UNI@IACC initiative will provide on-site student support personnel to prepare learners for academic and career success through advising and career navigation programs, resources, and services. To begin, on-site student support specialists will be located at DMACC and Western Iowa Technical Community College in Sioux City beginning in the fall. In the spring, student support specialists will be placed at Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs and Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa.

The presidents of each of the community colleges included in the new partnership expressed strong support for the initiative and the opportunities it will create for students. 

“It’s important for the Regent schools to reach out across the state to Iowans who are place-bound but who want to pursue their bachelor’s degree,” said DMACC President Rob Denson. “UNI@DMACC is exactly what our students need to achieve their higher education goals. It’s also a collaboration that benefits both of our institutions.”

Both Western Iowa Tech Community College President Terry Murrell and Indian Hills Community College President Matt Thompson echoed those sentiments.

“Western Iowa Tech Community College is very pleased to partner with the University of Northern Iowa on this initiative,” said WITCC President Terry Murrell. “We are excited the university’s educational services are expanding to become even more accessible to students in Siouxland.”

“This partnership aligns with our mission to change students' lives by providing a clear pathway to success. Having the ability to complete a four-year degree without having to leave southern Iowa will be life-changing for current and future students of Indian Hills and the University of Northern Iowa,” Thompson said. “We are excited to partner with the University of Northern Iowa on the UNI@IHCC program. We believe the opportunity provides students and families in our region access to a quality, affordable four-year public education from the Indian Hills campus.”

President Dan Kinney of Iowa Western Community College also commented about the new opportunities for students.

“The partnership between the University of Northern Iowa and Iowa Western will provide affordable opportunities for students of all ages to pursue a quality four-year degree,” Kinney said. “We are excited to welcome UNI to our campus as we partner to open the door for additional educational options for degree-seeking students.”

As work begins to set these partnerships in motion for the Fall 2022 and Spring 2023 semesters, UNI’s Interim Dean of the Graduate College Gabriela Olivares, who will also lead the implementation of UNI@IACC, spoke about the significant impact this initiative will make in the lives of students living in regions where an affordable, quality four-year degree is difficult to access. 

“These partnerships value access and remove educational barriers that students have experienced in the past,” she said. “We are thrilled to expand our partnership with Iowa community colleges to strengthen UNI’s online presence across the state and to provide a quality education to our students. It will be a game-changer for these students and will prepare them for a lifetime of success.”

For more information about the UNI@IACC partnership, program offerings and application instructions, visit https://iacc.uni.edu.

UNI Media Contact:

Pete Moris, director, University Relations, pete.moris@uni.edu, 319-273-3158

UNI@IACC Program Contact:

Gabriela Olivares, interim dean, Graduate College, gabriela.olivares@uni.edu, 319-273-2748