In an announcement that could have implications for the affordability of education and professional development, and possibly help address the skills gap, Gov. Scott Walker, University of Wisconsin System President Kevin P. Reilly, and UW Colleges and UW-Extension Chancellor Ray Cross have announced a competency-based degree model that they claim will transform higher education in Wisconsin.
Under the self-paced, competency-based model, students will be allowed to start classes anytime and earn credit for what they already know. Students will be able to demonstrate college-level competencies based on material they already learned in school, on the job, or on their own.
By taking advantage of this flexible model, and by using a variety of resources to help pay for their education, Walker said students will have new tools to accelerate their careers in a more accessible, affordable way.
The UW Flexible Degree will combine traditional face-to-face courses with online programs.
One goal is to offer students smaller course segments or “modules.” Rather than molding coursework around a set timeframe, these modules can be designed to contain only the knowledge required within a specific competency. This could benefit working adults who need to start and pause their studies because of work and personal commitments. It could also benefit highly motivated students who are able to move through course materials at a faster pace.
Roll out of this new program is planned for as early as this fall.
The unique nature of the Flexible Degree will allow the UW to lower the net tuition cost to students in a number of ways.