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July 9, 2021

Future of Higher Education

Measuring What Matters

Report with graphs, hand holding pen, calculator

Holding Ourselves Accountable with Data

By WGU Team

In a rapidly changing economy and the new realities of the workplace, it’s more important than ever that every student who enrolls in college gets an experience and outcomes that make it worth it. That’s why we take our commitment to be the most student-centric university in the world—and our mission to change lives for the better by creating pathways to opportunity—so seriously.

So how do we know if we’re succeeding? We measure.

The current policy approach to higher education leaves the industry highly regulated as to process, but unaccountable to students as to outcomes. The primary lens through which we should evaluate an institution’s quality is the value it creates for students.   

In the absence of industry-standard metrics, at WGU we’ve established a whole host of our own measures to ensure we’re delivering on our promise—and working to renew the promise of higher education. We report many of these metrics in our 2021 WGU Annual Report

Our work at WGU is dedicated to helping each student succeed, one by one. We measure our success not by rankings or selectivity but in the value we deliver to our students. This year, we introduced three key results to track our progress toward our mission to create pathways to opportunity: Return for Graduates, Personalized On-Time Completion, and Equitable Access and Attainment. The annual report highlights these and the many other measures we use to gauge our progress on our top priority: our students’ success.

We also engage third-party pollster Gallup to survey our alumni and compare them with a national sample to see how well our graduates thrive in their lives and careers in the years following their graduation. This year, an extremely difficult year for everyone, their WGU Alumni Outcomes Report 2021 showed outstanding resilience among our graduates, including being five times less likely than the national average to report having been permanently let go from their job and two times less likely to have lost income as a result of the pandemic.

This year and the years to come represent a crucial opportunity. As we recover from the pandemic and rebuild a more prosperous, more equitable future, we in higher ed must hold ourselves and each other accountable. It begins by measuring what matters—internally and as a system.

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