The Legislature’s intent to expand online access to higher education through a partnership with Western Governor’s University (WGU) was outlined in a bill signed by Gov. Chris Gregoire on Friday.
The Governor signed SHB 1822, which declares the Legislature’s intent to partner in establishing WGU-Washington, which would “offer online, competency-based degrees and provide enhanced access to postsecondary education for all Washington students, including dislocated workers and placebound students.”
The bill further seeks to facilitate the relationship with WGU-Washington by authorizing the HECB to:
· Recognize and endorse online, competency-based education as an important component of the state’s higher education system;
· Work to eliminate unnecessary barriers to the delivery of educational programs by WGU – Washington; and
· Work with WGU – Washington, as appropriate, to integrate academic programs and services into the state’s higher education policy and strategy.
The bill signed by the Governor also requires the HECB to work with WGU-Washington to create data-sharing processes to assess the institution’s performance and determine the extent to which it helps the state achieve state higher education goals.
WGU is private non-profit institution created in the mid-1990s by 19 U.S. Governors, including then-Washington Gov. Mike Lowry.