UPCEA co-signed, with a coalition of other organizations with a direct interest in distance education, a letter commenting on the Department of Education’s proposed regulations on state authorization. UPCEA joined along with five other non-profit organizations garnering a collective total of more than 1,000 institutions innovating in offering distance education, the leading organization in higher education information technology (more than 2,000 institutions), the national organization of financial aid professionals (approximately 3,000 institutions), and one of the premier providers of educational technologies and services. Beyond institutions, our memberships include other non-profit organizations, state agencies, accreditors, and corporations. All of the partners are interested in the development and delivery of high-quality distance education programs. Our collective advocacy shows how important this issue is to us, our members, and other organizations involved in distance education.

Click here to view the letter submitted to the Department of Education.

“Almost all U.S. colleges and universities now award certificates, digital badges and other forms of microcredentials so students can quickly show an employer specialized skills they’ve acquired.

Driving this fast-growing trend are workforce millennials who want to learn, for instance, how to operate an Amazon delivery drone or repair a self-driving car without having to earn another degree, says James Fong, director of the Center for Research and Marketing Strategy at the University Professional and Continuing Education Association. ”

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“As online learning evolves from amateur experimentation to a mainstream professional entity on campus, new standards for quality online learning leadership are emerging in order to not only sustain these distance programs, but ensure they meet the growing demands of 21st-century academe.

The UPCEA has released a report detailing seven hallmarks of excellence in online leadership. These standards of excellence for online learning leadership are an attempt to articulate those features and principles that will create opportunities for students that ‘far exceed anything already achieved in higher education, take pedagogy to a new level, and demonstrate the capacity of universities to be an even more vital force in our society,’ notes the report.”

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“The degree will always be an important credential, but it won’t always be the gold standard,” said Jim Fong, director of UPCEA’s Center for Research and Marketing strategy, in a press release. “As millennials enter the prime years of their career and move into positions of greater power, we’ll see more alternative credentials for specific industries and possibly across the board. Higher education institutions, especially those in our survey, are showing that they are being progressive with workforce needs.”

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