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Thursday, December 24, 2015

UW-Extension gets approval to grant degrees, to some discord by Tara García Mathewson

Photo: Tara García Mathewson
Tara García Mathewson, Contributing Editor and award-winning multimedia journalist writes below, 

Photo: Depositphotos

Dive Brief:
  • The Board of Regents for the University of Wisconsin System voted to let the extension program create and grant its own degrees rather than exclusively partner with other UW schools, opening up the possibilities with its competency-based option.
  • Inside Higher Ed reports the change drew some concern from UW administrators, some of whom believe the extension’s new degree-granting authority will create greater competition for the same pool of students.
  • The Board of Regents approved a change to the extension’s mission, allowing it to focus on students from Wisconsin “and beyond,” another point of contention for critics, but a way for Extension to take its online offerings to more people.
Dive Insight:  

UW-Extension has been doing most of the heavy lifting on the University of 
Wisconsin’s competency-based degree and certificate programs for the last few years. It creates the programs with UW schools, builds the systems to support them, and then offers them in partnership with the Wisconsin universities, which ultimately grant the degrees. The partnerships make program creation take longer than it will now that UW-Extension has the freedom to proceed on its own.

UW-Extension administrators expect the competency-based programs to pay for themselves, in time, and as it will still rely on faculty members from other Wisconsin universities to develop course curricula and assessments, it won’t have to make new hires. The University of Wisconsin has been a leader on competency-based education, and the change, though criticized in some corners, will likely allow it to move forward even faster.

Recommended Reading Inside Higher Ed: Cannibalizing or complementing?

Source: Education Dive