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A new partnership between the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and UW-Waukesha will allow students at the UW-Waukesha campus to earn a bachelor of liberal studies (BLS) degree.

The collaboration offers UW-Waukesha students the opportunity to earn credits toward both their associate and bachelor’s degree simultaneously. With an emphasis in leadership development, UW Oshkosh’s BLS program is designed specifically to serve adult nontraditional students and is delivered on UW-Waukesha’s campus and online.

The third-largest university in the UW System, UW Oshkosh is reaching out to make its educational programs more accessible across the state. Adult learners often cannot attend classes on the traditional university schedule. With online and distance-learning, students need not make drastic sacrifices in scheduling their work and family lives — nor in the quality of the education they receive.

According to findings released in 2006 by the Wisconsin Committee on Baccalaureate Expansion (COBE), the state ranks well below the national average in the number of four-year college graduates. In order to make up the difference the UW System will need to graduate 72,000 additional students with bachelor degrees by 2010.

“Area employers want employees with strong communication skills, effective problem-solving and critical-thinking abilities, and agility when it comes to change and continuous improvement,” said Charles Hill, director of The Center For New Learning at UW Oshkosh. “Adult learners, whose lives are already filled with work and family responsibilities, face obstacles traditional students do not. This program helps them overcome some of those obstacles.”