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I am interested in requesting a revision to my company’s policy on tuition reimbursement. At present there is a budget set aside for employees to continue their education but it must be at an accredited university and towards a related degree program.

This restricts individuals from taking online courses, like Coursera, as well as attending conferences and events which actually offer more relevant knowledge. This policy also prevents individuals who are interested in complementing their skills by taking courses in unrelated disciplines which can help broaden and enrich their contributions.

Does anyone have any experience or advice in pursuing such a change?

Edit: I work for a medium sized product/consulting company. Most of our employees work based out of HQ.

  • How large is your company, in terms of employees and geographical distribution? Are there other budgets that may exist for conferences and short programs (my organization has a tuition reimbursement program managed by Corporate, but more local training budgets for employees to go to conferences or take shorter-term professional development courses) that you may not yet be aware of? – Thomas Owens Jul 22 '15 at 17:32
  • Really hard to give a good answer without the context of knowing how large your company is. As a general rule of thumb, when companies look into adding/expanding benefits they're first going to do some competitive marketplace analysis and see what comparable firms are doing. They'll also look at what the potential cost is to the company and how likely (or not) the benefit is going to be used by a significant % of the workforce. – ChrisL Jul 22 '15 at 20:17
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    I've updated the question to include more information regarding my employer. – amadib Jul 22 '15 at 22:14
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... online courses, like Coursera, as well as attending conferences and events which actually offer more relevant knowledge ...

Does anyone have any experience or advice in pursuing such a change?

I did talk to HR at one company about expanding their tuition reimbursement policy to cover courses at accredited universities that were NOT in pursuit of a related degree. After much discussion, they eventually declined.

I heard later that their annual survey to which they subscribed, didn't show this as a common benefit at the time, and that formed the basis of their decision.

Consider approaching your boss to use his Training budget to fund these sorts of online courses and conferences, rather than the Tuition Reimbursement budget.

What you are describing seems to fit nicely in the Training category, and your boss often has lots more leeway in spending that budget.

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  • Training Budget? I'm sorry, I'm not familiar with that term. – James Adam Jul 22 '15 at 17:40
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    @JamesAdam it's what the bosses favorites bill junkets to. – Dan Is Fiddling By Firelight Jul 22 '15 at 22:18
  • I am not sure the boss would use training budget to pay for courses in unrelated disciplines. – scaaahu Jul 23 '15 at 4:11
  • Spot on. Tuition implies progress to a degree. Training implies learning/refining skills – Jim B Jul 23 '15 at 18:28

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