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04/13/12

I would like to congratulate the Washington State Legislature on its remarkable foresight with regard to higher education. Almost exactly one year ago, it established the state’s only nonprofit, self-supporting (through tuition), all-online competency-based institution in partnership with Western Governors University. Our lawmakers sought to expand access to higher education for Washington residents, and that's exactly what has happened: the student body, with an average age of 37, has grown 196% in its first year of operation to more than 2600 students. These are people who, for the most party, would not have had access to an education because they worked full time, were place-bound, or couldn't afford it.

The university’s four colleges, Business, Information Technology, Teachers College, and Health Professions (including Nursing), offer more than 50 accredited bachelor’s and master’s degrees in high-demand career fields, many with industry-specific certifications.

WGU Washington is affiliated with Western Governors University (WGU), which was founded in 1997 by 19 governors (in the Western Governors Association), including Washington Gov. Mike Lowry, to expand access to higher education without adding to each state‘s financial burden and to address the need for a better-educated workforce by making it easier for working adults to start and finish degrees. Here are the reasons:
• A 2010 study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce projects that, between 2008 and 2018, 677,000 jobs requiring postsecondary credentials will open in Washington, either through creation of new jobs or through retirements. This compares with 257,000 jobs for high school graduates and 94,000 jobs for high school dropouts.

WGU has a great deal of student and employer support:

A 2011 Harris Interactive study found the following: 1). 98% of employers agreed that WGU grads meet or exceed their expectations, 2). 100% would not hesitate to hire another graduate, 3). 97% rate the job performance of WGU grads as “good” or “excellent, 4). 98% rate WGU grads as equal to or better than graduates of other universities; 5). 98% consider WGU graduates strong prepared for their jobs.

A WGU/ Lighthouse Research survey determined the following about our graduates: 1). 94% say they would choose WGU again, 2). 96% say they would recommend WGU to others, 3). 65% say that the competencies learned at WGU were directly related to their current work.

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