Ray Cross, Chancellor of UW Colleges and UW-Extension, and Aaron Brower, Interim Provost at UW-Extension, gave an update on the University of Wisconsin Flexible Option to the UW System Board of Regents. The update to the Board described the significant progress that has occurred since the UW System’s new Flexible Option was announced in June 2012. The goal is to have the first cohort of UW Flex Options begin in late fall, Cross said, and development of that cohort is well underway, including the academic components, and academic and student support.
The Higher Learning Commission will rule on accrediting direct assessment for the Flex Option in July, Brower said, which impacts financial aid and marketing the program.
“There are serious challenges to doing this,” Cross said. “A degree is not merely stacking competencies. It’s like putting up bricks without mortar. How do you tie things together so it’s a meaningful experience?” Cross noted that it’s difficult to try new things and take risks in higher education. “We need your patience and encouragement and your criticism,” he told Regents.
Regent Tracy Hribar called the Flex Option update “very exciting.” She said she feels very strongly that adult learners in Wisconsin need a safe and affordable place where they get the education they need to keep themselves and their families competitive. She expressed particular concern for maintaining affordability.
UW System President Kevin P. Reilly said the Flexible Option calls for new paradigms in how people think about tuition models.
“We will make mistakes along the way with this program…and we will be criticized for having made those mistakes,” Reilly said. He told Board members that their support will be vital to the program’s success.
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View the Status Document.