Pursuing a college degree has just gotten easier for Comcast employees. Comcast and Jones International University (JIU) announced an agreement that will allow Comcast employees to pursue bachelor’s and master’s degrees online though JIU.

The agreement means the 29,000 Comcast employees who have taken courses from Jones/NCTI will now be able to apply those credits to JIU degrees.

"At Comcast, we’re very interested in promoting the professional development of our employees," said Martha Soehren, senior vice president and chief learning officer, Comcast University. "We recognize that our employees have many options for continuing their higher education. Our new relationship with Jones International will likely provide some Comcasters with college credits for courses they’ve previously completed with Jones. This relationship also will offer new opportunities for those Comcast employees who opt to pursue degrees through Jones International."

In September, JIU and Jones/NCTI (formerly the National Cable Television Institute and now a Jones International Academy subsidiary) announced a program whereby associate’s degrees and credits earned from Jones/NCTI would apply to JIU degrees, as well as a 20 percent discount scholarship on tuition toward the JIU degrees. Comcast employees are also eligible for the same 20 percent tuition discount.

"We view this as a milestone agreement, offering the cable industry a unique, fully integrated path to higher education for employees," said Dr. David Leasure, president, Jones International University. "First, it is recognition of the hard work that these cable professionals have accomplished in successfully completing the Jones/NCTI courses. Second, by providing seamless acceptance and integration of the Jones/NCTI credits toward a JIU higher degree, we are taking away the often-painful process that adult workers experience when they seek to further their education goals.

"Finally, by allowing Comcast employees to take their courses online, we are enabling them to achieve their ‘higher ed’ aspirations without ever stepping on a campus or perhaps resorting to resigning from their jobs to attend classes."

Tom Brooksher, president of Jones/NCTI, sees the program as a natural avenue for industry professionals to maximize their career growth.

"Under the Comcast program, a new hire installer or customer care agent can begin their career with a job-specific Jones/NCTI training course, continue to build their knowledge and skills with additional Jones/NCTI courses, earn an associate’s degree through Jones/NCTI, then go on to earn a bachelor’s or even a master’s degree with JIU," he said. "Those who already have a bachelor’s degree can pursue a master’s through JIU."

Under the agreement, JIU will provide Comcast employees information both through a microsite directly available from the company intranet and with any hard copy information they may request. Comcast will manage all communications to employees.

"They’ll have an admissions counselor and a academic counselor," Leasure said. "The academic counselor will stay with you throughout and help you through the rough spots. To me the biggest thing is that this is online, so there’s no commuting overhead, and there’s flexibility if you’re workload is overwhelming. Our faculty is comprised of working professionals, so even though they have academic credentials, they know what it’s like to be out in the business world, too."

Leasure said JIU was working on similar relationships with other cable operators, and the response from Comcast employees is the biggest JIU has had to date for a corporate program. – Mike Robuck

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