Wal-Mart is dipping its toe into the online-education waters, working with a web-based university to offer its employees in the United States affordable college degrees, reports the New York Times. The partnership with American Public University, a for-profit school with about 70,000 online students, will allow some Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club employees to earn credits in areas like retail management and logistics for performing their regular jobs. The university will offer eligible employees 15-percent price reductions on tuition, and Wal-Mart will invest $50 million over three years in other tuition assistance for the employees who participate. Executives at Wal-Mart, the nations’ largest retailer, said the company was not interested in entering the online-education field in a broader way. The point of the program, they said, was to help employees get more education and to build a better work force. Even so, because of its size, Wal-Mart’s internal changes often turn into industry standards, as with its efforts involving environmental sustainability. And with 1.4 million employees in the United States, even an employees-only program could have widespread implications. “If 10 to 15 percent of employees take advantage of this, that’s like graduating three Ohio State Universities,” said Sara Martinez Tucker, a former undersecretary of education who is now on Wal-Mart’s external advisory council. “It’s a lot of Americans getting a college degree at a time when it’s becoming less affordable.”

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About the Author:

Denny Carter

Dennis has covered higher education technology since April 2008, having interviewed some of the most recognized IT pros in U.S. colleges and universities. He is always updating eCampus News with the latest in pressing ed-tech issues, such as the growing i


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