Wisconsin’s public university system has launched “Flex Option” degrees, which replace standard credits with “competency-based education.”
A college education doesn’t come easy this days, neither does it come cheap. With state universities averaging $8,893 for annual fees and a whopping $30,090 for private universities (according to College Board reports), many people are thinking twice before attending. Now, the University of Wisconsin is introducing an alternative education option that would only cost $2,250 for three month’s of “all you can study” access. UW’s Flex Option will be the open buffet to other universities’ set menu.
The Flex Option program is based on ‘competency-based learning,’ which has been tested by other universities such as the Southern New Hampshire University. The program will cost a flat fee for three months of access to online courses, the university’s resources and a series of competency tests. Students have the possibility of finishing a degree in three months. This is in contrast to traditional degrees where completion is dependent on students fulfilling credit requirements. Ray Cross, Chancellor of UW Colleges and UW-Extension told Fast Co.Exist:
We are in essence creating a virtual university–a new one. What is a full-time student in a self-paced competency-based model? Well, we’ve got to define that.
Some critics believe that the model will only lend itself UW becoming a ‘diploma mill’. Eric Kraemer, a philosophy professor at the La Crosse campus told The Chronicle of Higher Education:
Questions that need to be asked are what are the limitations of it. I have serious doubts about the effectiveness of simply doing a competency test to determine whether someone can actually think on their feet.
Whether or not that is true, other state universities are sure to keep an eye on how the system works out in Wisconsin.