Only 21% of continuing, workforce and online education leaders say their divisions have the staff needed to execute on their critical work. However, more than half of leaders also report that their division’s roles have increased since the pandemic. This is according to the Modern Campus State of Continuing Education 2022 report, conducted in partnership with The EvoLLLution and the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA).
The study explores the opportunities and challenges facing leaders of professional, continuing and workforce education divisions at colleges and universities across North America. These divisions are often responsible for both making the expertise of the institution more accessible to the community and delivering critical upskilling and reskilling programming that help people find great jobs in sustainable careers.
Moreover, while two-thirds of survey respondents said they had support from senior executives to scale and grow, more than half pointed to administrative burden as their greatest obstacle to scale. In fact, an overwhelming majority of respondents indicate that they don’t have access to numbers as basic as real-time enrollment data—while being increasingly relied on to drive revenue and enrollment growth for the institution.
“The future of higher education is lifelong learning—we at Modern Campus know that. Engaging learners beyond traditional two- and four-year programs is the best way for colleges and universities to thrive,” said Brian Kibby, chief executive officer at Modern Campus. “This year’s State of Continuing Education research—along with nearly every conversation I have with presidents and provosts—confirms it. To support our communities, though, we need to better serve the CE and workforce development administrators who made it clear in this survey they don’t have the resources they need.”
While there’s little wide-ranging research available on the continuing, professional and workforce market, these units tend to be at the forefront of transformation and innovation in the higher education industry. Understanding the trends in CE provides a high-level view into where the rest of the postsecondary industry is moving.
“The results of this year’s State of Continuing Education study highlight what UPCEA members already know – that online and professional continuing education leaders often lack both the data and resources needed to achieve the institutional goals set out for their unit,” said Bob Hansen, chief executive officer at UPCEA. “This is a time of unparalleled opportunity for online and professional continuing education units to improve the broader higher education field, and the data in this study is a key tool as they advocate for institutional change.”
Additional Key Findings
- 90% of respondents say the primary business driver of their professional, continuing and workforce education division is revenue growth
- 76% of leaders also highlight enrollment growth for the institution
- 36% of leaders must manage their divisions with software not suited to their specific needs
- 71% of community college respondents report that their institution offers bridges from non-credit to credit education, but among universities this is less common
- Of those who don’t offer these bridges, 67% of respondents indicate their challenge lives in institutional barriers and systems, and 61% highlighted transfer policy gaps
- 67% of respondents whose institutions offer digital credentials cite market responsiveness as a significant benefit, while 49% highlight their capacity to streamline pathways to employment for students
- Only 7% of respondents whose institutions do not currently offer digital credentials feel they won’t do so in future.
- 73% of respondents cite competitive concerns posed by bootcamps and other third-party providers of higher education.
“This year’s State of Continuing Education study shows that continuing and professional education leaders are faced with greater responsibility than ever before, but aren’t being resourced to do that critical work,” says Amrit Ahluwalia, senior director of strategic insights at Modern Campus. “For higher education institutions to support the development of an active and vibrant workforce, it’s essential that continuing education divisions receive the resources and support they need from senior leaders.”
To explore the State of Continuing Education 2022 report in greater detail, visit https://moderncampus.com/state-of-ce-2022.
Report Methodology/Respondent Profile
From Feb. 1 to 17, 2022, UPCEA and The EvoLLLution invited their respective deduplicated institutional members and subscribers to participate in the study. A total of 205 individuals representing their institutions responded.
Public research institutions are the most common institution type (36%) followed by master’s comprehensive (20%) and two-year institutions (15%). Twelve percent are grouped into the “Other” category; examples include public community colleges and specialized art institutions, among others.
The most common titles of respondents are Dean and Director (both 13%), followed by Executive Director (12%), Associate Dean/Provost (8%), and Assistant/Associate Vice President (7%). Responses that were mentioned less than four times were included in the “Other” category and included Associate Director, Vice Chancellor and Program Coordinator, among others.