Mar 08, 2023

🎥 NCK Tech, FHSU, NW Tech affiliation request now in Kansas senate

Posted Mar 08, 2023 11:45 AM

Hays Post

When NCK Tech President Eric Burks presented the college's annual impact report to the Hays City Commission, he was also able to report the affiliation agreement sought with Fort Hays State University and Northwest Tech, Goodland, had just passed the Kansas House on a vote of 121-1.

"It had tremendous support and now moves on to the senate," Burks said in a Zoom meeting Thursday. "We hope it passes out of there with similar support."

The senate received the bill Monday. The request has already been approved by the Kansas Board of Regents. 

NCK Tech, with campuses in Hays and Beloit, already has an agreement with FHSU which allows the technical college students to live on the FHSU campus, and utilizes part of the Center for Applied Technology building for NCK Tech welding training. Credit transfer programs easily allow a NCK Tech grad to earn a four-year FHSU degree.

The affiliation agreement would deepen the relationship between the three schools. 

"Really, it's all about increasing student and community success for rural Kansas. We're looking at the demographics that we're all going to be facing (of a declining, aging population) and if we don't do something (to attract and keep young people in rural Kansas), we're not going to have anything."

The agreement has two core principles, to meet students where they're at and engaging local business and industry. 

Burks cited an example of telecommunications and network training in a partnership with Hays Nex-Tech.

The college was approached by Nex-Tech with a program idea to help fill the gap of Nex-Tech technicians who were leaving the area or retiring. 

A partnership was developed for a two-year associate degree program.

Nex-Tech is providing the equipment and facility, while NCK-Tech provides the instructor, recruitment of more students and the program credits. 

The school's prior IT curriculum on the Beloit campus was altered to meet the specific needs of Nex-Tech and the IT industry.

Nex-Tech and other area companies are financially sponsoring students to participate in the program.

"It's really been a win, win, win. Nex-Tech is helping train and find those next generation employees that they need." 

Another NCK Tech partnership program is planned for launch in the fall of 2024 to add respiratory therapy training to be taught at HaysMed. Start-up costs will be funded by the HaysMed Foundation. 

Burks thanked city commissioners for their letter of support of the affiliation agreement. 

He acknowledged the three schools have in the past sometimes viewed themselves as competitors. 

"Instead, we're locking arms and we're attacking something bigger than all three of us, which is the demographics shift we face. 

"We can find ways to help students stay in this region and that's going to serve our area well and help keep population, and hopefully, attract population over time."

According to the Chronical of Higher Education, NCK Tech has ranked in the top 10 graduation rates nationally in six of the past seven years.