Online, competency-based university rated higher than national average for faculty support and academic rigor SALT LAKE CITY — In the 2013 National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE), students from Western Governors University (WGU), www.wgu.edu, rated the online university higher than other institutions across the country. The survey, which polled more than 350,000 students from 613 colleges and universities—both bricks and mortar and online—nationwide, asked them to rate their experiences at their respective institutions. In a number of important areas, students rated WGU significantly higher than the national average: Quality of interactions with faculty—9 percent higher Challenging coursework—14 percent higher Hours spent studying each week—14 percent higher Quality of academic support—9 percent higher Acquisition of job-related knowledge and skills—9 percent higher Would attend the same institution again—28 percent higher Overall rating of entire educational experience—19 percent higher “These ratings demonstrate that WGU offers its students a high-quality learning experience and relevant, credible degree programs,” said WGU’s Vice President for Institutional Research Jason Levin. “While students are studying online and learning at their own pace, they rate the quality of their interactions with faculty higher than students at many traditional institutions. This is because WGU faculty members, called mentors, work with students individually, guiding their learning and providing coaching and support tailored to the each student’s needs.” WGU offers more than 50 bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in business, K-12 teacher education, information technology, and health professions, including nursing. The university uses an innovative learning approach called competency-based education, which allows students to study and learn at a pace that fits their lives and learning styles. Ideal for busy adults, competency-based education focuses on student learning rather than time spent in class. Students work through course materials on their schedules, with one-on-one faculty support, moving quickly through what they already know so they can focus on what they still need to learn. This makes it possible for many students to accelerate and finish their degrees faster—the average time to a bachelor’s degree at WGU is about three years.