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Wisconsin Enters Online Higher Ed Market with New Flex Degree Program

June 27, 2012

A new online flexible degree program backed by Gov. Scott Walker and the University of Wisconsin (UW) System aims to significantly raise the number of college graduates by allowing adults with some college experience to work at their own pace, earn credit for what they already know, and pay reduced rates through partnerships with employers. In order to appeal to the nearly 700,000 Wisconsin adults with some postsecondary education credit, the UW Flexible Degree provides a more personalized, self-paced college experience and a shortened time to degree completion. Courses are offered in smaller segments and are based on competency so those who have knowledge in certain areas from past schooling or work experience can move faster. Wisconsin officials say no other state institution offers a program like this, although a few states such as Indiana, Texas and Washington have added Western Governors University (WGU) satellites to their state programs. Similarly, most WGU students have some college credit when they enroll, but they pay a flat fee of $6,000 a year for as many courses as they can complete.

With no mention of how the state would contribute financially to the program, a detailed summary on the plan outlines how the degree would allow UW to lower the net tuition cost to students. This includes new employer-based and workforce development-focused grants where employers would pay part of the cost of tuition in the form of grants or loans that could be forgiven once the worker has been employed successfully for a certain period of time. The program promises to work with industry to make sure they are training students for jobs that are available. Right now those jobs exist in information technology, healthcare and business and management fields. A growing number of for-profit universities offering degrees online have stiffened the competition for nontraditional students, but Wisconsin leaders say their quality, credibility and commitment to matching workforce needs will set them apart from other models. Read more about the UW Flexible Degree at: http://www.wisgov.state.wi.us/Images/News/6.19.12%20UW%20Flexible%20Degr....

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