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Thursday, April 8, 2010

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UT Institutions Use Distance Education to Teach More Students, Improve Graduation Rates

AUSTIN – The University of Texas System Administration today (April 8) announced it will restructure its UT TeleCampus operation to further empower the UT System’s nine academic campuses and six health institutions to use their tremendous faculty expertise in distance learning and enhanced technological capabilities. The move will allow greater access to UT courses online, leading to improved student success and graduation rates.

UT TeleCampus will transition into a new UT System Administration office that supports campus efforts by serving as a central clearinghouse for innovations, implementing start-up programs, and assisting with distance education marketing and recruitment efforts. Restructuring the UT TeleCampus operation will better support the current and future needs of UT campuses, faculty and the students they serve.

Created in 1998 and funded by the UT System Board of Regents, the UT TeleCampus was charged with developing the initial technical and instructional support to assist UT institutions in developing distance education courses. Since that time, UT institutions have developed and administered their own distance education courses and now offer more than 2,400 online courses each academic year. The UT TeleCampus has achieved its goals of providing the campuses the capacity of offering outstanding on-line and distance education courses.

Recognizing the growth of distance learning across campuses, a shared services alliance – composed of distance learning experts from UT campuses – is working to maximize exposure of students to distance education courses available to them. Among the priorities identified by the alliance is a focus on providing greater access to students consistent with the state’s “Closing the Gaps” initiative.

“The UT TeleCampus is recognized as a pioneer in distance learning. For the past 12 years, it has been successful in helping all of the UT campuses develop advanced technological capabilities, and over those years, the campuses have developed an enormous capacity of taking distance learning to new heights,” said UT System Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D. “The UT System Administration and its institutions now believe that a new organizational support structure is appropriate as the next step in maximizing distance education opportunities for our students. The UT TeleCampus has accomplished its mission of providing this capability to our campuses,” Cigarroa added.

The first program to be supported by the new UT System Administration office is the Bachelor’s Accelerated Completion Program or BAC. The BAC will allow students who have completed 60 or more semester credit hours to accelerate their completion of certain baccalaureate degrees in up to three disciplines at five UT institutions. Students from anywhere in Texas or the nation will be eligible to apply for admission to the program.

About The University of Texas System

Serving the educational and health care needs of Texans for more than 125 years, The University of Texas System is one of the nation’s largest higher education systems, with nine academic campuses and six health institutions. The UT System has an annual operating budget of $11.9 billion (FY 2010) including $2.5 billion in sponsored programs funded by federal, state, local and private sources. Preliminary student enrollment exceeded 202,000 in the 2009 academic year. The UT System confers more than one-third of the state's undergraduate degrees and educates nearly three-fourths of the state's health care professionals annually. With more than 84,000 employees, the UT System is one of the largest employers in the state.

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