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The Quaky Consortium: Haverford’s Relationship with UPenn Remains Uncertain

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, many Haverford students wonder if the Quaker Consortium—an agreement with the University of Pennsylvania that allows any student of the Bi-Co to take classes at their institution—will start back up. To help curb the spread of disease and have fewer students on their campus, the University suspended all classes to Haverford, Bryn Mawr, and Swarthmore students in fall 2020. It is up to the University of Pennsylvania to continue this program. 

James Keane, Associate Dean of the College and Registrar, explains how the program used to run: “Students would simply have to request to take any undergraduate course, get approval from their advisor, and send it to the Registrar’s Ofice. In turn, Penn would ultimately decide whether they could satisfy that request.” Although they could never major or minor at the University, the Quaker Consortium provided Haverford students with the opportunity to take classes not offered at their institution. 

This program had been smoothly running for years—Covid derailed everything. Although Haverford, Bryn Mawr, and Swarthmore Colleges are ready to revive the Quaker Consortium, they are just waiting on the University of Pennsylvania to provide the green light. Interestingly, this did happen last summer, but the University quickly took their statement back after news of the Delta Variant broke. 

Many wonder whether the Quaker Consortium will ever resume, as there has been little progress within the past few years. James Keane offers: “I am hopeful that it will begin again for next fall. However, when Penn makes that decision is still up in the air. Hopefully, it will be before pre-registration, but it could be over the summer; this would also be okay, as students could still request the courses for September.” Recently, the UPenn office that took on the requests from students has switched, providing further delays. 

Yet, there remains hope. The 4 + 1 programs—where students interested in engineering and Bioethics can earn a UPenn degree by completing four years of undergraduate coursework at Haverford and one year of graduate courses at Penn—are still running. Tomas Ascoli, a sophomore at Haverford recently accepted into the 4 + 1 program, says: “First I had to take one class at Swarthmore as a prerequisite and then apply either the spring of my sophomore or junior year.” Adding, “The professor is good and it has been an interesting class.” 

One potential reason the 4 + 1 program continued while the Quaker Consortium didn’t lies in their origins. James Keane explains, “The two programs were established differently. We have firm articulation agreements for the 4 + 1 programs; I’m not sure we have a formal agreement for the Consortium… A difference between 4+1 programs and the Consortium is that 4+1  students end up paying Penn tuition at some point.” 

Although nobody is sure when the Consortium will continue, there is still a lot of hope that by next fall, students at Haverford College will once again be able to take courses at the University of Pennsylvania. 

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