Governor Brian Sandoval of Nevada has announced a new online university, WGU Nevada, that will hopefully allow better access to higher education for those in his state. WGU Nevada is designed to cater to the needs of Nevada's economy and will offer bachelor's and master's degrees in business, K-12 education, information technology, and health (including nursing).
Western Governors University, an accredited non-profit online school founded in 1996, has already partnered with five other states, including Texas, Indiana, and Washington, to serve potential students with their competency-based learning approach.
Pat Thomas writing for Kolo TV quoted Sandoval on the importance of a new model for higher education:
Affordable access to accredited education is the key to our future and essential to bringing more jobs to Nevada. WGU Nevada will make it possible for more Nevadans to earn the degrees they need to advance their careers and provide better for their families.
This partnership will provide additional educational opportunities particularly for our working adults who may have never had the opportunity to complete a degree.
The program will use a model known as competency-based education, in which progress is measured by student learning rather than hours spent in class. It allows students, and in particular working adults with busy lives, to learn at their own pace, according to the CNN Wire. Students aren't forced to spend time on things they already understand and can focus better on learning new information.
Students will have access to learning resources around the clock and will have one-on-one support from faculty. To move to the next level, they demonstrate mastery with papers, presentations, and exams. Adults with some prior experience in academia and/or the workplace usually can complete a bachelor's degree in less than three years.
WGU President Robert Mendenhall said:
We're really addressing a whole different population in the state that's typically underserved.
The truth is that most potential students in Nevada have never heard of us yet, and hopefully that will change as we introduce WGU Nevada in the state.
900 Nevada students are already enrolled in WGU, writes Riley Snyder of the Associated Press, but Mendenhall hopes to attract 5,000 more in the next five years through the partnership.
WGU Nevada will be led by Dr. Spencer D. Stewart, who previously worked for 15 years at the Nevada State College . A $2 million grant from USA Funds is helping the project get off the ground, and then it will be sustained with tuition fees. The announcement came from Lieutenant Governor Mark Hitchinson, WGU President Dr. Robert W. Mendenhall, and USA Funds Director of State Engagement and Relations Anna Gatlin, at the Switch InNEVation Center in Las Vegas.
WGU Nevada is now accepting applications for enrollment, according to Sandra Chereb of the Las Vegas Review Journal. Students may begin their terms on the first day of any month and are charged a flat rate of $3,000 per six-month term.