A new study reveals that more than 90% of American colleges and universities offer alternative credential or badging programs for certification in industry-specific careers. The University Professional and Continuing Education Association says millennial survey respondents prefer certifications to bachelor’s degrees, and schools are responding with increased development of professional training silos.
Millennial students seem to prefer badging and certificate programs to traditional bachelor’s degrees, according to a new study from University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA), Pennsylvania State University and Pearson that explored the role that alternative credentials play in higher education.
- Alternative credentials are offered by 94% of institutions.
- One in five institutions offers badges.
- Badges are most commonly offered in the business industry.
- 71% of institutions has consistent engagement with the business community for internships, practicums, and job placement.
- 64% of respondents either strongly or somewhat agreed that their institution sees alternative credentialing as an important strategy for its future.
Technically, being a nontraditional student isn’t all that nontraditional. The National Center for Education Statistics has delineated seven characteristics of nontraditional students, including delayed enrollment, full-time employment and supporting a dependent; NCES posits that 75 percent of all students have at least one of these characteristics. In 2011, 40 percent of American college students were considered nontraditional. Yet most four-year universities remain geared toward “traditional” students — the image of young, boozy, fresh-out-of-high-school kids unpacking Ikea furniture from their parents’ cars is still the one that dominates. According to Robert Hansen, chief executive of the University Professional and Continuing Education Association, faculty tend to focus more on full-time, first-time students, despite statistical data suggesting that more students are actually nontraditional.
The Department of Education has released proposed regulations on Borrower Defense to Repayment, a mechanism which would allow any student who believe they were defrauded at their school or the school violated state law, to file a claim with the Department of Education for discharging their loans. These proposed rules have come from the Department due to a failure earlier this year of Negotiated Rulemaking on the topic.
Focus on this rule has been brought about due to fallout from Corinthian Colleges, however it should be known that these regulations apply equally to both for-profit and not for profit institutions:
In response to the collapse of Corinthian Colleges (Corinthian) and the flood of borrower defense claims submitted by Corinthian students stemming from the school’s misconduct, the Secretary announced in June 2015 that the Department would develop new regulations to establish a more accessible and consistent borrower defense standard and clarify and streamline the borrower defense process to protect borrowers and improve the Department’s ability to hold schools accountable for actions and omissions that result in loan discharges.
Consistent with the Secretary’s commitment, we propose regulations that would specify the conditions and processes under which a borrower may assert a defense to repayment of a Direct Loan, also referred to as a “borrower defense,” based on a new Federal standard. The current standard allows borrowers to assert a borrower defense if a cause of action would have arisen under applicable state law. In contrast, the new Federal standard would allow a borrower to assert a borrower defense on the basis of a substantial misrepresentation, a breach of contract, or a favorable, nondefault contested judgment against the school for its act or omission relating to the making of the borrower’s Direct Loan or the provision of educational services for which the loan was provided. The new standard would apply to loans made after the effective date of the proposed regulations. The proposed regulations would establish a process for borrowers to assert a borrower defense that would be implemented both for claims that fall under the existing standard and for later claims that fall under the new, proposed standard. In addition, the proposed regulations would establish the conditions or events upon which an institution is or may be required to provide to the Department financial protection, such as a letter of credit, to help protect students, the Federal government, and taxpayers against potential institutional liabilities.
Comments on the proposed rules are being accepted through August 1st, 2016. UPCEA encourages our member institutions to weigh in and make their voices heard. Please submit your comments here.
For more information on Borrower Defense to Repayment, click here.
To thrive in today’s fast-evolving job market, students need flexible ways to quickly develop and demonstrate new skills. Alternative credentialing helps solve this problem.
UPCEA and Pearson surveyed 190 institutions to determine the role alternative credentials play in higher education. Learn more about the key findings and download the complete report, Demographic Shifts in Educational Demand and the Rise of Alternative Credentials.
The major findings of this study include:
- Alternative credentials are offered by 94% of institutions profiled.
- One in five institutions offers digital badges.
- Digital badges are most commonly offered in business-related domains.
- Institutions with corporate engagement consistently valued alternative credentialing more than institutions that did not.
- Sixty-four percent of respondents either strongly or somewhat agreed that their unit sees alternative credentialing as an important strategy for its future.