Within the next five years, over half of jobs in Tennessee will require postsecondary credentials beyond a high school degree. With this in mind, the Governor has set the goal of increasing the percentage of Tennesseans with a postsecondary credential from 32% to 55% by 2025. As a state, we cannot reach this ambitious goal without serving our adult population that has completed some college coursework, but did not obtain a degree. WGU Tennessee fills a critical gap in our postsecondary landscape.
What is WGU Tennessee?
Western Governors University (WGU) began in 1997 after 19 governors came together with the mutual desire to address the number of adults in their states who had some college but no credential. The average age of students who enroll in WGU is 37.
WGU Tennessee is a partnership between WGU and the state in an effort to serve adult learners that may possess some prior college credit, but have not obtained a degree.
WGU is the only accredited, non-profit institution in the country granting online, competency-based degrees.
WGU credits its success to two particular components of its model:
Competency-based learning - In a competency-based model, students receive credit for the skills that they have learned as opposed to the number of hours they sit inside a classroom. This is especially important for adults, because it shortens the time to graduation, which averages 35 months for a bachelor's degree at WGU.
Staffing model – There are three unique staffing roles within WGU, which allow for a more personalized and comprehensive educational experience: (1) faculty members who serve as student mentors, (2) course mentors who serve as subject matter experts, and (3) evaluators who objectively grade student work.
The university offers bachelor's and master's degrees in four key workforce areas: business, information technology, health, and teacher education
Tuition averages less than $6,000 per year and has not increased since 2008, providing a cost-effective option for students that maximizes the impact of financial aid.
WGU Tennessee will have an advisory board that includes leaders from Tennessee in each of the four degree fields. WGU and the Governor will jointly appoint board members.
There are currently three states with WGU state universities: Indiana, Texas, and Washington.
Why are we establishing WGU Tennessee?
WGU Tennessee is part of the solution to improving workforce development in Tennessee.
Tennessee is pursuing an ambitious goal for college attainment, and the state cannot reach this goal without serving certain key sub-populations, which include adults, first-generation college goers, and low-income students.
According to the most recent data, 20.8% of Tennesseans age 25 and over have some college but no degree (Census, 2010).
After a one-time investment in WGU Tennessee, the university will provide an effective means to address workforce needs in Tennessee without any ongoing cost to the state.
WGU's teachers college is the only online college accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
In collaboration with the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development and the Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs, WGU Tennessee will provide an opportunity for both dislocated workers and veterans to earn a degree and return to work.
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