News Brief - 11/16/16 Nonprofit, competency-based university one of only 22 to make University Research and Review’s list SALT LAKE CITY For the third consecutive year, nonprofit, online Western Governors University (WGU) has been recognized by University Research & Review (UR&R) as a “Best Value School,” one of only 22 universities to receive the award this year. According to UR&R’s founders, only institutions that provide a great value for their students are considered for the Best Value School Award. Awardees are chosen by a selection committee that includes academicians and entrepreneurs who consider nominees individually rather than relying on a one-size-fits-all metrics system. “We’re impressed with the overwhelmingly positive reviews from WGU’s students,” said L. Joseph Schmoke, UR&R founder and chair. “It’s clear that WGU’s affordability and innovative competency-based education model represent the practicality that students, and the higher ed industry, have been looking for.” Many of the positive comments from students and alumni evaluated by UR&R recognized the support students receive while earning their degrees. WGU is a student-centered university focused on ensuring that students succeed and graduate. As a result, WGU has received high marks in a number of national surveys. According to the 2015 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), WGU students ranked the university higher than the national average on a number of key satisfaction indicators, including: Quality of interactions with faculty: 12 percentage points higher Quality of academic support: 12 percentage points higher Challenged to do their best work: 17 percentage points higher Acquisition of job-related knowledge and skills: 10 percentage points higher Would attend the same institution again: 10 percentage points higher Rating of entire educational experience: 6 percentage points higher In addition, Western Governors University regularly surveys its students and graduates to gauge satisfaction and drive continued improvement. In a survey conducted last year, 96% of WGU students expressed satisfaction with their experience. Competency-based education focuses on measuring learning rather than time. Instead of logging hours in classes with set times, students can study and learn on schedules that fit their lives, applying prior learning and experience to move quickly through material they already know so they can focus on what they still need to learn. For many students, this means they can accelerate their time to a degree and graduate sooner, saving both time and money. Tuition at WGU, which hasn’t increased since 2008, is charged at an affordable flat rate of $2,890 per six-month term for most programs, regardless of the number of courses taken, so students who move more quickly through their programs spend less.