Purdue University Global has joined the ranks of universities like Harvard and MIT that offer online coursework, now free for Purdue employees and reduced-price for their families.
The official Purdue University Global website launched on April 2 during an event hosted by Purdue President Mitch Daniels, Chancellor Betty Vandenbosch, and two staff members taking advantage of the free tuition, Kim Joy and Maile Quinton. Though the purchase and subsequent naming of PUG may still be controversial, allowing employees and their families free or reduced tuition is a good move on the University’s part.
Purdue’s mission to educate those seeking a degree has expanded to consider not only those who can attend campus physically, but also those hundreds of miles away. Therefore, educating the educators and other staff who promote Purdue should seem like an obvious next step. The promise of free tuition speaks volumes to Purdue’s adherence to its original academic values.
“Purdue does not have the program that I want to major in,” Quinton said in a phone interview. “But Purdue Global does and allows me as an employee of Purdue to work and go to school and have that tuition reimbursement.”
Joy plans on pursuing a degree in cybersecurity, something she has been interested in for quite some time.
“At the end of my career at Alcoa … that’s where I started getting more of my passion for computers and wanted … to go get a career more into technology,” Joy said in a phone interview. “That ended up going on the back burner for quite a while, until this opportunity came up for the more affordable online campus.
“Because it’s online and it is Purdue, and I’m working at Purdue, I feel like I have resources here and can even ask students or professors. I feel like I have a lot more resources than if I was to be working at Alcoa to go get my online courses.”
Arguments claiming that offering what is essentially a free degree through PUG’s online courses will cheapen the Purdue “brand” fall flat when one considers that some Ivy League schools offer classes online that are free for all users, not just university staff members. Their brands certainly haven’t worsened; in fact, many laud the Ivies for achieving groundbreaking advancements — something Purdue is definitely used to doing — in the area of less expensive higher education.
“We are very honored to be part of the Purdue system,” Vandenbosch said in a phone interview. “Purdue is an institution that stands for quality and for integrity, and Kaplan University also stood for quality and integrity, but now that we’re together, we at Purdue University Global will benefit greatly from the fact that ... the Purdue system has so much faith in our quality and our integrity. It’s an honor and a privilege to be a part of that system.”
Beyond the fact that offering employees free tuition at a qualified online university shows a belief in the power of education, the simple value of a Purdue diploma still shines as an example of an economical and excellent education, regardless of the existence of its online counterpart.
The quality of a regular Purdue degree and coursework from West Lafayette’s campus hasn’t seemed to suffer, even though many employees are eligible for tuition remission, which typically pays for most, if not all of a student’s tuition. Offering free classes for Purdue’s online students is simply a part of the process of ensuring that Purdue employees are as informed as possible.
Eligibility requirements of employees who wish to take PUG courses free of charge stipulate that students of PUG must maintain a 3.0 GPA. This eligibility clause ensures that the staff members who take advantage of the tuition remission keep high grades and actually learn the material being provided to them. By ensuring employees retain good grades, PUG establishes a dedication to rigor and quality of education both in what it provides for its staff, and what its staff provides for their students.
Due to PUG’s free tuition for employees, Purdue staff can now earn a degree through one of over 100 programs. Employees will be given the chance to learn more about any subject PUG offers courses on, a freedom that represents Purdue’s wholehearted dedication to furthering the education of not only its students, but its staff as well.