PHILIPPI, W.Va. (WBOY) — Alderson Broaddus University will start providing educational opportunities for corrections officers and West Virginia Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation employees.

The new agreement will allow Division of Corrections employees to earn up to 18 credit hours toward a degree in criminal justice, and all other online courses at Alderson Broaddus will be available to them at a reduced tuition rate.

Alderson Broaddus President Tim Barry said that he believes the new agreement will be a great opportunity to ease the statewide corrections officer shortage.

“Number one, it gives us exposure to a unique function in West Virginia,” Barry said. “Secondly, for them, it gives them an exposure to high education, to teaching and learning, which is what we do. We teach and we learn here. I think thirdly, they ate going to realize that they have benefitted from going through this experience. This educational experience.”

West Virginia’s shortage of corrections officers has gotten bad enough that in August, Gov. Jim Justice declared a state of emergency and the West Virginia National Guard began providing staffing assistance.

In September, the state estimated that its jails and prisons were short by 742 corrections officers.