STC, WGU Texas partner to streamline higher education

Shirley Reed, president of South Texas College and Steven Johnson, chancellor at WGU Texas, sign an agreement Monday that will make it easier for STC students and staff to obtain higher education degrees. (Courtesy of South Texas College)

South Texas College and Western Governor’s University Texas signed an agreement Monday to make higher education degrees more accessible, affordable and flexible.

The partnership between the community college and the university will make it easier for STC students and employees to obtain a bachelor’s or master’s degree, STC President Shirley Reed said.

STC graduates, faculty and staff are eligible for a 5% tuition discount if they pursue a bachelor’s or master’s degree at WGU Texas, she said, and scholarships may also be available to students who undergo this route.

“Students deserve options, and these programs are online, so that facilitates completing the bachelor’s degree while you’re working (or) raising a family,” Reed said.

WGU Texas Chancellor Steven Johnson said community colleges are “critically important for the future of the state” and especially for the Rio Grande Valley.

WGU Texas offers online programs and understands the needs of a demographic that attends community college, he said.

The institution follows a “competency-based” education, which is a model where students can move through a course based on how well they progress through the material, which provides flexibility for students who are working or have other responsibilities.

The desgrees will focus on high-demand professions, such as information technology, healthcare, business and education.

Students interested in attending WGU can go to an STC transfer office, where advisers will help streamline the process, Johnson said.

“It’s just an easy, clean process if they want to come to our university.” he added.

This is an added advantage, Reed said.

“Sometimes the path from the community college to the university is not always seamless,” she said. “It can be a bumpy process sometimes… (but) they understand community colleges, they understand the kind of programs we offer, the high quality of (the) programs.”

A higher educated populace will benefit the growth of the region and lead to a higher quality of life, she added. That’s why both institutions will focus on a smooth and easy transition.

“They’ll have somebody close by to work with our students and employees… we’re not just signing an agreement and we each go our way,” Reed said. “We need to maintain this relationship.”