Paul Fain at Inside Higher Ed has posted a piece on the final report for the audit of Western Governors University (WGU). The online university enrolls 83,000 students, but has been under audit for several years. At issue has been the role of faculty in its competency based education programs. The inspector general was questioning where or not the school was in compliance with the Higher Education Act of 1965.
The inspector general has found the WGU to not be in compliance, and has recommend among other things the repayment of at least 713 million dollars in federal financial aid. WGU contests the finding of the role faculty play in their competence based programs.
WGU has enjoyed strong bipartisan support in Washington and drew praise from the Obama administration for innovation. It has also had a good track record with its accreditors.
What is of major concern for online learning in general is the basis used for the finding. According to Fain, “the Office of Inspector General, which is led by Kathleen Tighe, relied on a 1992 federal law that defines aid eligibility for distance education programs, which many have said poses a problem for WGU, some other competency-based programs, and possibly online education writ large.”
Fain points out that many experts believe the Trump administration might not follow up on the findings as he has signaled his administration is interested in reducing regulation in general.
The full Fain article is here:
Education Department’s inspector general labels Western Governors as a correspondence-course provider, seeks reimbursement of $713 million in aid and may broadly threaten competency-based education.