eArmyU meets first-year goals, expands

The Army's virtual university for enlisted soldiers, eArmyU, met its first-year enrollment goals, providing online college courses to more than 12,000 students in 2001, the Army announced Jan. 25.

"We are meeting our goals to create technology-savvy soldiers to support Army transformation, succeed on the digitized battlefield, enhance retention and help soldiers achieve academic degrees while they serve," said Thomas White, secretary of the Army.

Launched Jan. 16, 2001, the five-year, $453 million e-learning program offers soldiers at Fort Benning, Ga., Fort Campbell, Ky., and Fort Hood, Texas, online education anywhere, any time. The program will expand next month to two more Army installations, Fort Carson, Colo., and Fort Lewis, Wash., and additional Army installations later this year.

An average of 4,000 soldiers signed up to participate at each installation, according to Army spokesman Paul Boyce.

The Army projects 10,000 additional soldiers will enroll through the end of fiscal 2002, which ends Sept. 30, bringing enrollment to 22,000, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers spokeswoman Judy Welles. The eArmyU distance-learning portal was designed and built and is operated by PwC Consulting, a business of PricewaterhouseCoopers of New York.

Participants can continue their studies when they are sent to new installations. Soldiers are now completing classes while stationed in Australia, Honduras, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Belgium, Japan, Egypt, the United Kingdom, Kuwait, Singapore, Germany, Korea, Macedonia, Italy and Jordan.

Soldiers receive free tuition, books and fees, a laptop computer, printer and an Internet account. In return, they must successfully complete at least 12 semester hours in two years. They also receive 24-hour access to educational support services, including online registration, tutoring, technical support and library resources.

Sixteen percent of participants extended or re-enlisted in the Army to meet program eligibility requirements.

The eArmyU education partnership includes 23 colleges and universities and hardware and software providers offering more than 90 online post-secondary degree and certificate programs and 4,000 courses.

Two-thirds of eArmyU soldiers are pursuing associate degrees, 27 percent are pursuing bachelor's degrees, 4 percent are pursuing post-secondary certificates and 2 percent are pursuing master's degrees. Popular majors include general studies, business administration, information systems management and criminal justice.

"We are gratified by soldiers' enthusiastic response to eArmyU and by the speed at which we were able to provide the education they demanded," said Grady Means, managing partner of the Arlington, Va., Washington Consulting Practice of PwC Consulting.

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