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Government & Politics

Western Governors University's Future Tied to State Budget

photo of WGU Notebook
KAREN KASLER
/
STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU
WGU Notebook

An online-only nonprofit university that started offering classes in Ohio a year ago is now a sticking point in the budget process – with the House stripping recognition for it and the Senate bringing it back. 

WGU has 3,200 Ohio students enrolled in bachelor's and master's programs in business, K-12 education, IT and health. Laura Rush of Columbus received her MBA in health care management from WGU in 2016.

“It’s really set up, I think, for working adults who are trying to work this into everything else going on in their life,” Rush said. 

But Rep. Jay Edwards (R-Nelsonville) said WGU is competing with established online institutions, and with online offerings from Ohio’s established public and private colleges and universities – some of which are seeing lower enrollments.

“We don’t think it’s right to create that competition with someone that’s not invested in the state,” Edwards said. 

The House budget halted WGU’s operations at the end of this year. The Senate budget doesn’t, so the conference committee will have to work that out.