WGU Indiana Triples Enrollment in First Six Months, 1/3/11

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News Brief - 1/3/11

WGU Indiana Triples Enrollment in First Six Months

Non-Profit, Online University Growing by Nearly 100 Students per Month

INDIANAPOLIS — Just six months after Governor Mitch Daniels launched WGU Indiana, calling it 'Indiana's eighth state university,' the non-profit, online university has tripled in size, with more than 800 adult Hoosiers now enrolled. WGU Indiana, which offers over 50 accredited bachelor's and master's degree programs in business, teacher education, information technology, and healthcare, including nursing, is adding nearly 100 new students each month.

As college degrees become increasingly essential for career success, states are searching for affordable ways to increase access to higher education for their citizens. Currently, 38% of working adults in the U.S. have associate’s or bachelor’s degrees, but researchers estimate that by 2018, 66% of new jobs will require an associate’s degree or higher. For states to meet their higher education goals, they must offer opportunities that are accessible to working adults, not just recent college graduates. However, current budget constraints demand that they find innovative ways to create higher education opportunities without impacting state budgets. Indiana recognized this need, what Governor Daniels called ‘the largest single remaining need in Indiana higher education,’ and, in partnership with non-profit, online Western Governors University, launched WGU Indiana in June 2010.

WGU Indiana rounds out Indiana’s family of higher education opportunities by offering affordable, flexible degree programs designed to meet the needs of working adults in the state. Self-sustaining on tuition, the Indiana university operates at no cost to the state. In addition, the state’s newest university has hired more than 70 new faculty and staff members in Indiana since June.

For many working adults, the thought of returning to the classroom to study material they learned decades earlier is not an enticing prospect. WGU Indiana provides a welcome alternative; the university is completely online and competency-based, meaning students accelerate through courses based on knowledge, not seat time. Once students demonstrate their mastery of a particular topic or skill, they can move on, saving both time and money. As a result, the average time to complete a bachelor’s degree at WGU Indiana is two and a half years.

WGU Indiana’s flexibility was just what initially encouraged Dawn Hanson, one of the new university’s first graduates, to enroll. Already a registered nurse working in a hospital, Ms. Hanson wanted a bachelor’s degree in nursing to advance her career. However, with a full-time job and two children, attending classes in the evening away from home was out of the question. WGU Indiana allowed her to complete her B.S. in Nursing on her schedule. Speaking at WGU Indiana’s first commencement ceremony on October 27, she said, “I’m grateful to WGU Indiana for providing the opportunity for me, a working wife and mom, to finish my education without sacrificing precious time with my family.”

According to the Lumina Foundation, only 33 percent of Indiana’s working-age residents have at least a two-year college degree. WGU Indiana Chancellor Allison Barber believes that WGU Indiana is already well on its way to combating these statistics. “Adults’ success in college is a key to Indiana’s future, so it’s very encouraging that Hoosiers’ acceptance of WGU Indiana in the last six months has exceeded even our most optimistic projections,” said Barber. “We’re doing something unique in Indiana—finding a new way to offer our citizens affordable, accessible higher education without impacting state budgets. We’re looking forward to continued growth in the coming months and years.”