The Majority of Institutions Offer Other Forms of Credentials

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According to a new study done by University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA), Pennsylvania State University and Pearson, millennial students tend to lean towards badging and certificate programs as opposed to the traditional bachelor’s degree.

The study, titled “Demographic Shifts in Educational Demand and the Rise of Alternative Credentials” includes research conducted from 190 institutions, including community colleges (11 percent), baccalaureate colleges (12 percent), master’s colleges or universities (27 percent), and doctorate-granting universities (50 percent). Of those surveyed, 61 percent of them were public institutions. Overall, the research revealed that offering alternative credentials, such as digital badges, certificates, and micro credentials, have become popular, with 94 percent of institutions reporting that they offer this.

Digital badges are online representations of skills learned by students, typically with visual iconography; certificates are usually issued by educational institutions to students who have completed significant programs of study that do not culminate in a specific degree; while micro credentials are digitally presented certifications providing evidence that an individual has mastered a specific skill or area of knowledge that demonstrates their learning.

Director of UPCEA’s Center for Research Marketing Strategy, Jim Fong; director of the Center for Online Innovation in Learning and a professor at Penn State, Kyle Peck; and senior director of business development at Pearson’s Acclaim, Peter Janzow all conducted the study. They have also found that:

* One in five institutions offers digital badges

* Digital badges are most commonly offered in business-related domains

* Institutions with corporate engagement value alternative credentialing more than institutions that did not

* Sixty-four percent of those surveyed agree that their institution sees alternative credentialing as an important strategy for its future

According to Fong, “The degree will always be an important credential, but it won’t always be the gold standard. 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.” For more information, please visit UPCEA’s website for more information.