Report: Colleges And Universities Should Offer More Alternative Credentials (Campus Technology)

June 30, 2017


Younger students are more interested in alternatives to traditional degree offerings, such as microcredentials, certificates and other short-term opportunities, according to a new report from the University Professional and Continuing Education Association(UPCEA) and Blackboard.

“I think over time, as traditional education continues to increase, then one could surmise that the value of other educational offerings (those in smaller bundles) may have more traction,” said Jim Fong, director of the center for research and strategy at UPCEA and co-author of the report. “Also, later in the survey, we see that younger generations tend to be more willing return to college and acquire more learning. We have interpreted that as ‘the bachelor’s degree is not the member card to all things.’ We also know that younger generations prefer just-in-time learning, as we can see higher usage and adoption rates of DIY videos on YouTube, Kahn Academy and even some data from demographic results released from MOOC providers.”


Read the full article here.

On the eve of the proposed date of implementation, the US Department of Education has delayed the Gainful Employment regulations until July 1, 2018, stating this is part of a fulfillment on their promise of reducing burdensome regulation. A federal register notice was issued announcing the delay. This delay will allow for institutions to have more time to comply with disclosure requirements originally due on July 1, 2017, regarding the distribution of gainful employment data to students and in promotional materials. In part, the notice cited a pending court case against cosmetology school as a reason why it will allow schools to file alternate earnings appeals into 2018. More details are expected in the coming month. Secretary Betsy DeVos has signalled recently that she hopes to see the Gainful Employment rule retooled through a negotiated rulemaking process.


Read more from the Department here.

Though online students are often far from one another, many online instructors still assign group projects. Online students may use tools such as Google Docs to edit assignments along with Skype and online chatrooms for discussions.

“It is preparation for the workforce,” says Ray Schroeder, associate vice chancellor for online learning at the University of Illinois-Springfield. “Even if one’s already employed while taking an online course or degree, more and more corporations are extended across the country,” and even internationally.

Click here to read the full story.

Partnership will focus on executive searches for professional, continuing, and online education.


WASHINGTON, D.C. – June 28, 2017 – AGB Search, the firm focused exclusively on all aspects of higher education executive search, has partnered with UPCEA, the leading association for professional, continuing, and online education, to provide executive search services for higher education institutions, units, and programs serving nontraditional student populations.

From declining enrollments to changing student demands, today’s shifting higher education landscape presents many challenges to institutions. Although enrollments at U.S. colleges and universities have been declining since 2012, online enrollment overall continues to trend upward, with 5.8 million students enrolled in at least one online course in 2014. The pressure to stay on top of trends and skills in today’s ever-changing, technology-driven economy is spurring enrollments, with job goals or transition to a new career as a primary motivator. To remain competitive, institutions must effectively serve adult and nontraditional learners, who now constitute up to 85 percent of American college students. Professional, continuing, and online education units are on the front lines, helping this population to balance the competing demands of work, family, and education.

As this aspect of higher education evolves, institutional leadership has to be well-versed in growing and managing sustainable continuing and online education programs. The need for leaders experienced in this space led to UPCEA’s exclusive partnership with AGB Search. Through the partnership, institutions seeking to fill high-level leadership positions in professional, continuing, and online education units will be paired with AGB Search consultants and veterans of the field whose guidance will help searchers identify and hire the best candidate for the institution and role.

“Having a leader who can implement an effective strategy for reaching nontraditional students will soon make a difference in institutional survival,” said Bob Hansen, CEO of UPCEA. “I’m pleased that through our partnership with AGB Search, institutions will have access to seasoned search consultants to help fill these strategic leadership roles.”

The AGB Search team will be joined by search consultants Mary McIntire, Ph.D. and Thomas Kowalik, Ph.D., past UPCEA members and highly-regarded leaders in the professional, continuing, and online education field. McIntire most recently served as Dean of the Glasscock School of Continuing Studies at Rice University. During her tenure at Rice, enrollments increased from hundreds per year to nearly 20,000, and courses have attracted students from more than 100 countries. Kowalik has more than 30 years of leadership experience in adult and continuing education. Previously at Binghamton University (SUNY), he was founding director of the University’s campus-wide Continuing Education and Outreach unit, which grew to serve more than 11,000 graduate, undergraduate, and noncredit students annually. With their decades of expertise in the field, McIntire and Kowalik are adept at identifying the unique skills and attributes necessary for leading today’s innovative and entrepreneurial units.

“Together, AGB Search and UPCEA will help to strengthen the online, continuing, and professional education space by identifying leaders with high quality, relevant expertise,” said Rod McDavis, Managing Principal of AGB Search. “We are proud to be at the forefront of higher education leadership in the 21st century.”


About AGB Search

AGB Search, based in Washington, D.C., is the only firm that specializes in all aspects of higher education executive search. The firm identifies and vets exceptional candidates, helping to build effective, diverse leadership teams. Founded by the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges in 2010, AGB Search has an unparalleled commitment to professionalism and quality. With a dedication to service and deep roo­ts in the industry, AGB Search discovers what makes each institution unique and presents the best candidates for each position.



UPCEA is the association for leaders in professional, continuing, and online education. Founded in 1915, UCPEA membership includes most of the leading public and private colleges and universities in North America. For more than 100 years, the association has served its members with innovative conferences and specialty seminars, research and benchmarking information, professional networking opportunities, and timely publications. Based in Washington, D.C., UPCEA also builds greater awareness of the vital link between contemporary learners and public policy issues. Learn more at



Molly Nelson

AGB Search
Marissa Cormier


As society evolves, our fascination with generational differences never seems to cease. Driven by the worldly events of the time, each generation embodies a generalized collection of cultural differences which tells us a fair amount about their beliefs, influencers, and preferences. While our fascination is oftentimes tied to pop-culture details such as fashion, music, and food trends, generational differences have a big impact on a global and economic scale. Higher education is no exception.

In early 2017, UPCEA and Blackboard began collaboration on research aimed at showcasing the education experience across multiple generations. Our hypothesis was that different generations likely have different expectations for their education experience. We were interested in just how different those expectations were, particularly for the generations furthest apart in age. Realizing that the largest majority of students today are adult, “non-traditional” learners, we set out to learn how each of the generations who make up the “new adult learner” category view their educational journey.

Ultimately, these expectations should inform our strategic approach to enrollment growth and student success. The primary objective of this research is to better understand the needs and preferences of the
new adult learner, asking questions such as:

  • Are we still communicating with the right tools and messages?
  • Have we made the right investments in technology and outreach?
  • Are our systems set up to support these generations?
  • Do we have the best services in place to care for students?
  • Are our processes and approach in need of a full makeover?


UPCEA Members: Click here to login to CORe to download the complete PDF of the report.

Not an UPCEA Member? Call 202-659-3130 for more information. 

US DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION — U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos today released the following statement on the Department’s Regulatory Reform Task Force’s first progress report as required by President Donald Trump’s Executive Order 13777:

“The Regulatory Reform Task Force has been hard at work over the last few months cataloguing over 150 regulations and more than 1,700 pieces of policy guidance on the books at the Department of Education. As their work continues, they have been tasked with providing recommendations on which regulations to repeal, modify or keep in an effort to ensure those that remain adequately protect students while giving states, institutions, teachers, parents and students the flexibility needed to improve student achievement.”

“To ensure an open and transparent process, the Task Force’s progress report will be published on the Department of Education’s website. I look forward to the Task Force’s continued work and to hearing from the public as we work to prioritize the needs of students over unnecessary and burdensome requirements.”

The Regulatory Reform Task Force is comprised of both political appointees and career civil servants at the Department of Education, and the public can read its progress report here.

The Department has also published a Federal Register notice to provide members of the public the opportunity to submit comments concerning regulations and policy guidance they recommend the Department review, modify or repeal. Comments are due by August 21, 2017.



Contact:   (202) 401-1576,

US DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION – WASHINGTON—Today, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced Year Round Pell grants will be available to students beginning July 1, 2017. This policy change will ensure hundreds of thousands of college students have the resources needed to finish their coursework in a timeframe that meets their individual needs.

“This decision is about empowering students and giving them the flexibility and support needed to achieve their goals,” said Secretary DeVos. “Expanding access to the Pell program, so that students who need additional resources can graduate more quickly and with less debt, is the right thing to do.”

This change in the Federal Pell Grant Program will allow an eligible student to receive up to 150 percent of the student’s Federal Pell Grant Scheduled Award beginning with the 2017–2018 award year.

To be eligible for the additional Pell Grant funds, the student must be otherwise eligible to receive Pell Grant funds for the payment period and must be enrolled at least half-time. For a student who is eligible for the additional Pell Grant funds, the institution must pay the student all of the student’s eligible Pell Grant funds, up to 150 percent of the student’s Pell Grant Scheduled Award for the award year.

Unless the student has remaining eligibility from the 2016-2017 award year, the Department strongly recommends that institutions award Pell Grant funds for this summer out of the 2017-2018 award year since the additional funding will be available later in the year (e.g., spring or summer of 2018).

Although institutions have the flexibility to assign crossover payment periods to either of the relevant award years, the new law provides that an institution must make the assignment “as it determines is most beneficial to students.” Therefore, that decision should be based on what is in the best interest of the student and maximizes the student’s eligibility over the two award years.

For more information please see the Dear Colleague Letter on the Implementation of Year-Round Pell Grants by clicking here.


As Millennials continue taking over the workforce as the nation’s largest generation, it is important to take note of upcoming trends for this cohort of people — specifically with regards to the educational routes they each take. While it is clear that college enrollment rates are rising, with its peak being in 2010 when 70% of high school graduates enrolled in college for the graduating year, recent studies have shown that the typical college baccalaureate degree is losing its appeal. With so many Millennials attending college, the bachelor’s degree has become “the minimum requirement… for getting even the lowest-level job.” As a result, researchers have found that students, specifically those of younger generations, have sought to earn alternative credentials either in place of or in addition to the typical bachelor’s degree.

In a recent 2017 Blackboard survey, it was found that the majority of Millennials (ages 21 to 35) exhibit strong interest in earning certifications and/or badges in the future. More specifically, 72.4% of Young Millennials (ages 21 to 25), 65% of Middle Millennials (ages 26 to 30), and 66.4% of Old Millennials (ages 31 to 35) show moderate to strong interest in earning certifications and/or badges. This evidence suggests that there is increasing interest and curiosity among younger Millennials toward alternative credentials.

Download the full report.

Capitol Hill
UPCEA today co-signed a letter led by ​ACE and 32 other higher education associations to the leaders of the House and Senate budget and appropriations committees, asking them to maintain Congress’s “historic commitment” to student financial aid and scientific research as they begin work on funding the federal government for FY 2018, which begins Oct. 1.

As part of this commitment, the groups urged Congress to reject the Trump administration’s potentially devastating cuts to financial aid and research programs outlined in the president’s FY 2018 budget proposal released last month.

The Trump plan would cut more than $150 billion from student aid programs, leaving students to borrow more to access college and to pay more for those loans. It also proposes to eliminate billions in research funding, including $7.2 billion at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). That cut is coupled with massive cuts at many other research agencies, with early analysis indicating an overall cut to research funding of 17 percent.

The continuing threat of sequestration: Along with the administration’s proposals, the federal investment in higher education is also under threat by discretionary spending caps negotiated back in 2011 under the Budget Control Act (BCA). That law ended the country’s 2011 debt ceiling crisis, raising the ceiling and creating budget caps to limit spending over 10 years, with separate caps for defense aimed to reduce spending by $1 trillion by 2021.

The BCA has been modified three times since its enactment; most recently, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 raised the cap for fiscal years 2016 and 2017 and gave a boost to defense. Without another statutory correction, FY 2018 non-defense discretionary funding will be reduced by $3 billion below FY 2017 levels.

As the groups pointed out in their letter, despite the support of Congress over the last few years, many student aid and scientific research programs remain below their FY 2011 funding levels when adjusted for inflation. Further reductions would “disproportionately harm the programs that are proven to provide the most effective pathways for low-income and other working Americans to move up the economic ladder and build and maintain economic prosperity.”

Congress signals support: Last month, Congress finalized a FY 2017 omnibus appropriations measure that expanded the Pell Grant program for low- and middle-income students and provided $2 billion in additional funding for NIH research. These increases, along with continued funding support for critical student aid and scientific research programs, illustrate the strong bipartisan support that exists for these programs. Forty Senate Democrats and fifteen Senate Republicans, led by Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA) and Richard Burr (D-NC), followed up with a letter May 24 to Senate appropriators requesting continuation of this strong commitment to NIH funding in FY 2018.

In a Senate appropriations subcommittee hearing yesterday, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos faced open criticism from Republicans as well as Democrats as she testified on the Trump administration’s budget proposal. In opening remarks, subcommittee chair Roy Blunt (R-MO) called the request “difficult to defend” and that Congress was unlikely to pass the kinds of cuts the president proposed. (For more details on that hearing, see Inside Higher Ed and The Chronicle of Higher Education.)

The House is expected to pass its FY 2018 funding bills before the August recess, though a timeline for Senate action is unclear. The federal fiscal year ends on Sept. 30, but Congress has not met that deadline in recent years, instead passing extensions into the new fiscal year.