(April 20, 2015) - With state funding approved this past week, the University of North Georgia (UNG) plans to open an instructional site this fall in Blue Ridge, Georgia, that will increase college opportunities for students in northeast Georgia. At its meeting on April 14, the University System of Georgia (USG) Board of Regents approved $943,000 in the Fiscal Year 2016 operating budget for the new instructional site.
"Access to quality, affordable higher education is vital to creating jobs in today's economy," said Speaker of the House David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge), who represents Fannin and Gilmer counties and a portion of Dawson County. "Having a permanent, first-rate institution of higher learning in our community has long been a goal of mine. This campus will mean great things for generations to come in our part of Georgia."
In 2012, the state launched the Complete College Georgia initiative based upon a 2011 study by Georgetown University that indicates Georgia needs to add 250,000 postsecondary graduates to the state's workforce by 2025. Census data indicate that individuals with a college degree may earn $1 million more over their lifetime than those with only a high school diploma, and nearly half of the counties in the UNG's immediate service area have a college completion rate of less than 20 percent.
"The health of the U.S. and Georgia economies depends upon citizens obtaining meaningful degrees at a higher rate than they do today," said USG Chancellor Hank Huckaby. "This new instructional site, with funding from the state legislature, supports our mission to graduate more students to meet workforce demands, which in turn supports economic recovery and development."
Though the location of the instructional site has not been finalized, the university plans to begin offering courses in fall 2015. Initially, the program will build upon the university's existing dual-enrollment courses that are offered in collaboration with the Union and Fannin County school systems and allow students to earn both college and high school credit at the same time. One benefit of dual-enrollment is that college tuition is funded by the state's Accel program.
"We know that, particularly in the northernmost counties in our service area, there is need for expanded higher education opportunities that emphasize access, convenience and affordability," said UNG President Bonita C. Jacobs. "This new instructional site will meet those needs and create the foundation for more robust opportunities in the future."
Initial dual-enrollment courses would focus in the social sciences and humanities to complement existing advanced coursework opportunities available in the local schools. Classes may be facilitated or enhanced by real-time technology that is made possible through UNG's participation in the North Georgia Network and Educational Exchange in the region.
By spring 2016, the university expects to enroll a cohort of approximately 100 students. Courses will be designed to lead to the completion of a baccalaureate degree, including a transfer pathway, as well as associate programs in regional high-demand disciplines.
"Blue Ridge provides an opportunity to create a unique campus that serves a broad spectrum of students and meets regional needs," Jacobs said. "There will be a strong consideration of the needs of first-generation students, as well as high-achieving high school and college students, former students who have stopped out, and working professionals."
With more than 16,000 students and campuses in Cumming, Dahlonega, Gainesville, and Oconee County, UNG is one of the state's largest public universities. UNG has been recognized nationally for its academic excellence and economic value, including being named one of the top five public universities in Georgia on Money magazine's list of "Best Colleges" in 2014.
Also, as one of only six federally-designated senior military colleges in the United States, UNG is The Military College of Georgia, and its leadership development experiences have earned it designation as a state leadership institution by the USG Board of Regents.
For information about enrollment opportunities, contact the UNG Office of Undergraduate Admissions at 706-864-1800 or online at www.ung.edu.