During the late 1920's and early 1930's several junior colleges were founded in the State of Washington. The primary purpose of these schools was to enable students to complete the first two years of university without leaving home. A major concern of these new institutions was the transferability of courses to the various colleges and universities in the state.
By 1965, the increase in transfer students between the postsecondary educational institutions created a need for improved communication and coordination. In response to this need, the presidents of public baccalaureate institutions established the Intercollege Articulation Committee (ICAC). In 1968, the Washington Council on High School-College Relations established a junior-senior college committee, which included representatives from community colleges and public and private baccalaureate institutions. This group met somewhat infrequently from 1968 through the spring of 1970. Perhaps the major accomplishment of these two groups was that communication about issues related to transfer students was becoming more formalized.
At their summer and fall meetings in 1970, the Washington Association of Community College Presidents (WACCP) discussed several models of organization for addressing transfer-related issued that were developing. The model finally chosen, by agreement among community colleges and public and private baccalaureate institutions, was organized under the constitution of the Washington Council on High School-College Relations. The first meeting of the Intercollege Relations Commission (ICRC) was held on December 10, 1970, at Bellevue Community College.
During the first year and a half, the Commission met several times each quarter in order to develop guidelines for Associate degree agreements. The first set of guidelines was adopted in 1971. The Commission also developed a constitution, sponsored transfer advisor workshops, examined the College Level Examination Program, focused on problems related to transfer of credit, established an institutional hotline, and gathered data on a variety of topics.
Only once in its history, during 1972, has the ICRC met with any organized institutional opposition. During the fall of that year, the presidents of the public baccalaureate institutions decided not to appoint Commission members until a review of Commissions activities, membership, and procedures could be undertaken. Concern was expressed that the ICRC was developing influence, which might reduce, or appear to reduce, autonomy in the individual colleges and universities. Following a report by the Academic Dean from Eastern Washington State College, the presidents again appointed representatives to the Commission.
During recent years, ICRC has focused on improving the transfer process. This effort involves the formation of committees charged with developing basic skills requirements in English and math, defining elective courses more precisely, reviewing compliance of the various colleges with the guidelines, and studying Alternatives for the Transfer of Occupational Programs (ATOPS). Several schools per year are visited by the ICRC Transfer Review Committee, which produces a confidential report to help schools improve their student transfer procedures.
In 1978, 1980, 1984, 1988, and 1996 revised sets of guidelines have been adopted by the ICRC membership. Thirty-three community colleges in the State of Washington and the Northwest Indian College have at least one direct transfer Associate degrees that meet the ICRC guidelines (In 2009, the five technical colleges received approval to offer direct transfer associate degrees, four have to date). Furthermore, the guidelines were subscribed to by the six public baccalaureate institutions and Branch Campuses and twelve not-for-profit independent colleges and universities in the State of Washington.
During the 2011 legislative session, Engrossed Second Substitute House Bill 1795, led to the direct transfer agreement becoming state law. The law states that public baccalaureate institutions must award junior standing to a Washington community and technical college graduate who has earned a transferable associate of arts or sciences degree and must be deemed to have met the lower division general education requirements when transferring to a four-year college or university.