December 3, 2023

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Diving overview:

  • Continuing and online education programs offered by traditional brick-and-mortar colleges struggle with staffing issues, high administrative burdens, and issues with real-time access to student data. It is according to the annual survey from the University Professional and Continuing Education Association and Modern Campus, a provider of superior software.
  • Among college staff surveyed, 71% said their institutions’ leaders support the expansion of their institutions’ continuing education programs, but 57% said such programs are not adequately staffed to meet institutional goals.
  • Some 68% cited administrative burden as a barrier to expanding continuing education programs, up from 53% in 2022.

Diving Statistics:

Findings from the 2023 State of Continuing Education Survey show a conflict at some institutions between the goals they set for undergraduate programs and the resources colleges allocate to support them.

The report notes that the involvement of academic leaders has created some momentum in the continuing education space.

“However, many of the same issues hindering these efforts, such as staffing issues, remain unresolved, and other issues, such as administrative burden and access to real-time data, have worsened since 2022,” the report said.

College staff at 140 institutions completed the full survey between January 10 and January 26. Common jobs included dean, executive director and director of continuing education. Public research institutions accounted for half of the respondents, with 14% being private research institutions and 13% being graduate universities. Most respondents were also large institutions – 31% enrolled between 5,000 and 15,000 students and 48% had more than 15,000.

Many respondents highlighted challenges that could prevent their programs from adapting quickly enough to remain competitive in a crowded non-degree market.

Among those surveyed, 45% said they were concerned about the time it would take to develop a course from concept to implementation, up from 35% the previous year. And 46% said their teams did not have easy access to real-time further education student enrollment data, up from 38% in 2022. Respondents from small colleges – those with fewer than 5,000 students – were more likely to say that have easy access than those who larger institutions.

Despite institutional beliefs that continuing education offerings can boost enrollment in traditional programs, it’s not easy for students to move between them, the survey found.

More than half of respondents, 55%, said students in their colleges’ non-degree programs could not earn credit toward degrees, while 40% said they could and 5% were unsure. Of non-credit colleges, just over three-quarters said institutional barriers were the biggest challenge to creating a pathway from non-credit to credit-bearing courses. That’s up from 67% in 2022.

This breakdown reflects the response of 3 in 5 respondents who said their continuing education program was not well integrated with the rest of their college’s offerings.

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