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We should be fostering innovative opportunities for Ohioans

About a year ago, a respected national university began offering Ohioans new options for higher education. They can take online courses to obtain bachelor’s and master’s degrees in fields where there are excellent career opportunities. They can save money in the process.

What’s not to like?

Something, apparently.

Western Governors University is the institution in question. Already, it has about 3,100 Ohio students and, reportedly, about 2,600 graduates who reside in the state. Among popular programs of study are education, health care, business and information technology.

Public community colleges and four-year institutions have supported WGU. So did the Ohio Department of Higher Education, last year.

At least some state legislators do not. A few weeks ago, the Ohio House of Representatives approved an amendment to the state budget bill, which must be approved by both chambers of the General Assembly by June 30. In essence, the amendment would rescind state recognition of WGU. That would affect students’ access to some state student aid.

It appears some legislators are upset that WGU competes with state-funded colleges and universities.

To an extent, it does. But some of those very state institutions compete against each other. And, again, Ohio college and university leaders have said they support WGU simply because it offers options.

And unlike the public institutions, WGU does not receive any taxpayer subsidies. The university, formed in 1997 at the instigation of a group of governors, is a non-profit enterprise.

State senators do not seem to support the attack on WGU. Members of the House should rethink the amendment and remove it from the budget bill, befpre sending it to Gov. Mike DeWine. Government should not be in the business of quashing innovative opportunities for Ohioans such as those presented by WGU.

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