Despite a belief that continuing education programming positively affects enrollments in traditional programming, they remain under-resourced

Continuing education programs need more resources

Despite a belief that continuing education programming positively affects enrollments in traditional programming, they remain under-resourced

While 71 percent of senior leaders at higher education institutions believe continuing education programs should grow, more than half (57 percent) feel their continuing education units are understaffed to execute on institutional goals, according to the 2023 State of Continuing Education report from Modern Campus.

The report, which was produced in partnership with the Canadian Association for University Continuing Education (CAUCE)The EvoLLLution, and the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA), explores professional, continuing, and online (PCO) unit program offerings, institutional support and capabilities, perceptions of the competitive landscape, and continuing education collaboration and integration within the larger institution.

The research aims to provide the higher education community with data to better inform decision making around professional and continuing education programs and their role within the higher education ecosystem.

While the study revealed there is belief that continuing education programming positively affects enrollments in traditional programming, results show it is still not well integrated into traditional institutional portfolios. Continuing education units are still under-resourced, with many lacking the staff, systems, and investments needed to meet institutional goals.

“The future higher-education institution is rooted in continuing education, but delivering on that promise requires both strategic and operational support from the institution,” said Amrit Ahluwalia, senior director of content and strategic insights at Modern Campus and editor-in-chief of The EvoLLLution. “It is our sincere belief that the findings of this study will enable continuing education professionals to advocate for greater resources and allow them to be seen for the critical functions that their portfolio plays for institutions and learners alike.”

Additional key findings include:

  • 41 percent say continuing education positively affects enrollment in traditional programming.
  • 90 percent see revenue generation as a primary business driver for continuing education.
  • 46 percent of respondents struggle to access real-time enrollment data for continuing education.
  • 27 percent of respondents said staffing is the greatest challenge PCO units face in scaling or expanding their programs.
  • 68 percent of respondents cited administrative burden as a top challenge faced in course or program expansion.
  • 35 percent strongly agree or agree that there is a concentrated effort from institutional leadership to organize and manage continuing education at their institution.

“The professional, continuing, and online education space is transforming rapidly,” said Jim Fong, chief research officer at UPCEA. “And as the years go by, this space is providing the playbook to the wider higher education field on how to engage and serve all learners. It’s critical to continue to track the opportunities and obstacles that face the continuing education sector so we can confidently communicate its role–and the importance of resourcing this work–to our colleagues and to policymakers.”

“We are proud to have been a partner in the 2023 State of Continuing Education survey as one way of demonstrating our commitment to the field of continuing education in Canada,” said Christie Schultz, 2022-23 president of CAUCE and Dean of the Centre for Continuing Education at the University of Regina. “As the growth of continuing education opportunities in Canada accelerates, it’s imperative that we understand the current state so that we can make decisions that serve our learners and our communities best, now and into the future.”

This press release originally appeared online.

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Laura Ascione