WGU Named 'Best Value School' by University Research & Review

New award recognizes schools for providing a high-value, high-quality education

Apr 02, 2014, 11:50 ET from Western Governors University

SALT LAKE CITY, April 2, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Online, nonprofit Western Governors University (WGU), www.wgu.edu, is one of 13 universities honored as an inaugural Best Value School Awardee by University Research & Review (UR&R), a national organization built to help prospective students find the right high-quality colleges and universities to fit their needs.

According to UR&R's founders, the new Best Value School Award is "not a ranking system" and is designed to recognize institutions that provide a great value for their students. Awardees are chosen by a selection committee made up of academicians and entrepreneurs, who consider nominees on a case-by-case basis rather than relying on a one-size-fits-all metrics system.

"Every adult considering enrolling in an online degree program should take a close look at Western Governors University, one of the most unusual and innovative schools we've seen," according to the Best Value School Award website. "Two things stand out, besides the very reasonable cost, and they are: competency-based learning and the overwhelmingly positive reviews this school receives from its students and graduates."

WGU's more than 50 online, accredited degree programs are competency-based, an innovative approach to education that allows students to advance through their programs as soon as they're able to demonstrate mastery of the material. Passing courses means proving competencies that are defined by academic and industry experts to reflect the latest needs of the marketplace. What matters is what a student has learned, not how they learned it. Competency-based education measures learning rather than time spent in class, so professionals with knowledge and skills from work and previous college experience can often move through their programs more quickly. And because WGU charges tuition at a flat rate per term regardless of how many courses are completed, saving time also means saving money.

Another factor cited by the selection committee for recognizing WGU was its review of dozens of comments from current students and alumni, which the committee found to be overwhelmingly positive. WGU is a student-centric university, with student success as its No. 1 goal. The data back that up: The 2013 National Survey of Student Engagement found WGU's students ranked the university higher than the national average on a number of key satisfaction indicators, including:

  • Quality of interactions with faculty: 9% higher
  • Academic support: 9% higher
  • Challenging coursework: 14% higher
  • Acquisition of job-related knowledge and skills: 9% higher
  • Would attend the same institution again: 28% higher
  • Rating of entire educational experience: 19% higher

WGU regularly surveys its students and graduates to gauge satisfaction and drive continued improvement. In a survey conducted last year, 97% of WGU students expressed satisfaction with their experience, with 58% saying they were "very satisfied."

WGU offers more than 50 accredited bachelor's and master's degree programs in the high-demand fields of business, information technology, K–12 education, and healthcare, including nursing. For more information on the Best Value School Award and WGU's recognition, visit www.bestvaluecolleges.org. For more information on Western Governors University, visit www.wgu.edu.

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 at scale. Named one of  Fast Company's "Most Innovative Companies for 2013," WGU has been featured on NPR's "All Things Considered," 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 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).

Western Governors University has partnered with five states to establish state-based universities aimed at adding affordable capacity to state higher education systems. WGU Indiana, WGU Missouri, WGU Tennessee, WGU Texas, and WGU Washington are key elements in their states' strategies for increasing the percentage of adults with bachelor's or master's degrees. These state-endorsed universities offer degree programs that are accredited through WGU.

The university has earned the support of more than 20 leading corporations and foundations, including 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