Western Governors University Applauds Introduction of Legislation that Would Establish a Competency-Based Education Demonstration Program

Sep 19, 2013, 18:14 ET from Western Governors University

Nation's leading provider of competency-based degree programs praises initiative to foster innovation in higher education

SALT LAKE CITY, Sept. 19, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, a bipartisan group of Members of the House of Representatives led by Congressman Matt Salmon, Congressman Jared Polis, Congresswoman Susan Brooks, and Congressman Rob Andrews introduced legislation to establish a Competency-Based Education Demonstration Program. Western Governors University (WGU), www.wgu.edu, the only U.S university offering accredited competency-based degree programs at scale, strongly supports this new legislation as a critical step toward increasing college quality and affordability and strongly applauds the leadership of the bipartisan group of Members.

Established in 1997 by a bipartisan group of U.S. governors to expand access to high-quality college degrees, nonprofit WGU offers more than 50 online, competency-based 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. Now with more than 40,000 students and 26,000 graduates from all 50 states, WGU has led the way in the development of competency-based education.

Competency-based education focuses on measuring learning rather than time. Ideal for adult learners returning to college to complete a degree, competency-based learning allows students to take advantage of their experience and prior learning to move quickly through material they already know so they can focus on what they still need to learn. Instead of enrolling in courses that require a set amount of time to complete, students complete their courses as soon as they demonstrate mastery of the subject matter. Because students can accelerate their studies, they can shorten their time to degree completion, saving both time and money.

"Over the past 16 years, WGU has proved that competency-based learning is an affordable and efficient approach to providing high-quality degree programs, particularly for adults who've started, but not completed, a degree," said WGU President Dr. Robert Mendenhall. "This demonstration program will help remove critical barriers to innovation and create an environment that will allow us to continue to develop programs that improve the quality and affordability of higher education in America. I applaud the leadership of Representatives Salmon, Polis, Brooks, and Andrews in moving this important legislation forward. Just as the United States benefitted greatly from the Distance Learning Demonstration Program in 1998, this legislation will provide the necessary push to move higher education closer toward the goals we all share for college accessibility and affordability."

About Western Governors University 
Recognized by President Obama as an innovative university that "awards credits based on learning, not seat time," Western Governors University is the only university in the U.S. offering accredited, competency-based bachelor's and master's degree programs as scale. Named one of  Fast Company's Most Innovative Companies for 2013, WGU has been featured on NPR's "All Things Considered," The NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, CNN's "Schools of Thought," and in The New York Times.

WGU is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. WGU's Teachers College is the first exclusively online provider of teacher education to receive accreditation for its teacher licensure programs from NCATE, the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education. The WGU bachelor's and master's nursing degree programs are accredited by the Commission for Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE*), and its B.S. in Health Informatics is accredited by CAHIIM (Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education).

On June 11, 2010, WGU Indiana was created by Governor Mitch Daniels as Indiana's eighth state university. WGU Washington was established by the Washington State Legislature on April 22, 2011.  On August 3, 2011, the state of Texas created WGU Texas. On February 15, 2013, Governor Jay Nixon announced the establishment of WGU Missouri, and on July 9, 2013, Governor Bill Haslam announced the establishment of WGU Tennessee. These state-based universities are state-endorsed and offer degree programs that are accredited through Western Governors University.

The university has earned the support of more than 20 leading corporations and foundations. They include institutions such as AT&T, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Lilly Endowment, HCA, Hewlett-Packard, Lumina Foundation, Microsoft, Oracle, SunGard Higher Education, and Zions Bank. More information is available at www.wgu.edu or by calling 866.225.5948.

*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