AUSTIN, Texas, March 17, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- WGU Texas, (texas.wgu.edu), a nonprofit, online university, has been awarded a $500,000 grant (over the next three years) from Greater Texas Foundation. The foundation serves the citizens and educational institutions of Texas by supporting initiatives that increase post-secondary enrollment rates and degree completion for all Texas students—particularly those who face barriers to success in college. The grant awarded to WGU Texas will be used to create guaranteed transfer pathways and serve the adult population in rural Texas, with some college credit and no degree.
WGU Texas leverages an innovative approach to learning called competency-based education that measures student learning rather than time spent in class. Created for adults who need a flexible, affordable way to return to college to complete a bachelor's or master's degree program, WGU Texas supports the goal of Greater Texas Foundation of offering affordable degree options for working adults.
"The Permian Basin is one of the fastest-growing regions in the country," said Dr. Wynn Rosser, President & CEO of Greater Texas Foundation. "As a result, we need more teachers, nurses, business, and IT professionals to sustain this high level of economic growth."
With funding provided by Greater Texas Foundation, WGU Texas will conduct targeted outreach and build awareness for WGU Texas degree programs serving students in the Midland-Odessa area. This includes strengthening partnerships with hospitals to provide high quality nursing degrees (RN to BSN or MSN programs), as well as working with major employers to provide employees with a flexible, affordable, online education in business, management, accounting, and information technology.
Research shows that the demand for educated and skilled workers in Texas continues to rise. However, Texas is currently behind other parts of the nation in college completion rates. For example, a recent survey by Georgetown University found that by 2018, 60 percent of jobs in the U.S. will require post-secondary education, but the percentage of the Texas workforce (ages 25-64) with a bachelor's degree is currently less than 19 percent. And, according to the Census Bureau, the Permian Basin region is far below the current statewide average in the number of working adults (ages 25-64) who have obtained at least an associate's degree or higher.
Qualified, dedicated teachers are desperately needed in Texas, particularly in rural communities and in subjects like math and science. In addition, a survey by the National Center for Education Statistics, found that more than a quarter of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teachers are not certified in the subjects they teach. And, in Texas, only 53 percent of Texas' secondary teachers have an undergraduate major in the core subjects they teach.
"We understand the personal and financial challenges that Texas students from underserved communities often face on their road to post-secondary completion," said Ray Martinez, Chancellor of WGU Texas. "WGU Texas' online, competency-based model is the perfect solution for adult learners in a highly employed region, because they can keep working, and still get a college degree to gain a competitive advantage."
The grant funding will also help WGU Texas develop highly qualified K-12 teachers in the STEM areas. Western Governors University (WGU), WGU Texas' parent university, is nationally recognized for its math and science education programs, and was recently named the nation's largest producer of math and science teachers. WGU's Teachers College is also a recognized leader in online teacher education working towards the goal of ensuring that highly competent teachers are in every classroom. In addition, WGU and Greater Texas Foundation are partners in 100Kin10, a multi-sector network addressing the national imperative to train 100,000 STEM teachers by 2021.
WGU Texas' competency-based learning model allows students to apply prior education and experience to move quickly through material they already know so they can focus on what they still need to learn. While students move through course materials at their own pace, faculty mentors provide continuous, one-on-one support. Tuition is charged at a flat rate of approximately $3,000 per six-month term for most programs, no matter how many courses students complete. Because they advance as soon as they demonstrate their mastery of subject matter, students on average graduate with a bachelor's degree in three years, saving both time and money.
"By partnering with Greater Texas Foundation, we are removing barriers to higher education and giving adult learners in the Permian Basin region a second chance to achieve their dreams of a college degree, in an affordable and flexible way," Martinez said.
About Greater Texas Foundation
Headquartered in Bryan, Texas, Greater Texas Foundation serves the citizens and educational institutions of Texas by supporting initiatives that increase rates of post-secondary enrollment and completion for all Texas students, with a particular focus on students who may encounter barriers to post-secondary success.
About WGU Texas
Established in 2011 by the state of Texas in partnership with nationally recognized Western Governors University, WGU Texas is a nonprofit, online university focused on expanding access to quality higher education for Texas residents. WGU Texas offers more than 50 accredited bachelor's and master's degree programs in the high-demand fields of business, K-12 teacher education, information technology, and health professions, including nursing.
Degrees are granted under the accreditation of Western Governors University, which is regionally accredited through the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). Teachers College programs are accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) and Nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).*
Learn more at texas.wgu.edu or call 1-877-214-7011.
*Western Governors University offers nursing programs that are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (One Dupont Circle, NW, Suite 5380, Washington, DC 20036, 202-877-6791).
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SOURCE Western Governors University