Four Grand Strand and Pee Dee universities and technical colleges have partnered together to allow students from any school to use facilities during the coronavirus pandemic.
The agreement is the first in South Carolina, according to college and university officials.
Coastal Carolina University, Horry-Georgetown Technical College, Florence-Darlington Technical College and Francis Marion University leaders have signed a mutual assistance compact, according to CCU.
“As leaders of higher education institutions in our region, we share the responsibility of removing barriers to learning and ensuring access to facilities and technology for all of our students,” said Dr. David A. DeCenzo, President of Coastal Carolina University. “Our institutions have a long-standing history of connecting well with one another. This agreement opens up imaginative new prospects for meeting our students’ needs together.”
The agreement will allow mutual aid in planning, facilities access and support and staffing, if the needs arise, according to CCU. Martha Hunn, CCU associate vice president and chief communication officer, said the compact is a product of discussions between the schools this summer when all four were busy building fall reopening plans.
Students enrolled at one institution are able to use academic facilities such as libraries, technology or testing centers for proctored test, and other tools from any compact member institution, Hunn said.
The compact was designed to last through the COVID-19 pandemic, but “could lead to more enduring arrangements,” according to CCU.
“Our four-way partnership, amongst two universities and two colleges spanning 180 miles, is a phenomenal way to provide open access to our students - all for their convenience and success,” said Dr. Marilyn Murphy Fore, HGTC President.
Hunn said students who come to Coastal Carolina University from other campuses participating in the compact will need to follow CCU campus guidelines from the Coastal Comeback Operational Plan. "We have the expectation that our students would also follow the guidelines that HGTC, FMU and FDTC have put in place," she said in an email to the Post and Courier.
CCU began classes online last week and HGTC begins classes mostly online Monday.