60% of Higher Education Leaders Say Continuing Education is Not Well-Integrated into Institutional Portfolio Offerings

Despite Belief that CE Programming Positively Affects Enrollments in Traditional Programming, CE Units Remain Under Resourced 


TORONTO – March 22, 2023 

While 71% of senior leaders within higher education institutions support scale and growth of continuing education (CE), more than half (57%) feel that their CE units are understaffed to execute on institutional goals. This is according to the 2023 State of Continuing Education report. Published by higher education engagement platform leader Modern Campus, in partnership with the Canadian Association for University Continuing Education (CAUCE), The EvoLLLution, and the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA), the study 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 purpose of the research is to provide the higher education community with data to better inform decision making around professional and CE programs and their role within the higher education ecosystem. While the study revealed there is belief that CE programming positively affects enrollments in traditional programming, results show it is still not well integrated into traditional institutional portfolios. CE 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 CE, 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 CE 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 

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

To explore the complete findings from the 2023 State of Continuing Education report, visit: http://moderncampus.com/state-of-ce-2023. 

Survey Methodology and Respondent Profile 

Member institutions of CAUCE, The EvoLLLution and UPCEA were contacted and invited to participate in this year’s study, with precautions taken to ensure that institutions were approached by only one organization. The survey took place between January 10 and January 26, 2023; 190 institutions participated, of which 140 completed the entire survey.  

Public research institutions are the most common institution type (50%) followed by private research institutions (14%), and master’s comprehensive institutions (13%). Ten percent are grouped into the “Other” category; examples include public comprehensive institutions, community colleges, among others. Forty-eight percent have more than 15,000 undergraduate and graduate students, nearly a third (31%) have 5,000 to 15,000, and 21% have fewer than 5,000. 

The most common titles of respondents are Director (general) and Dean (general) (both 14%), followed by Executive Director (general) (13%), Director of Continuing Education (8%), and Associate Dean/Provost (6%). Responses that were mentioned fewer than three times were placed in the “Other” category and include Registrar, Assistant Professor, and Customer Service Representative, among others. 

About Modern Campus 

Modern Campusis obsessed with empowering its nearly 2,000 higher education customers to thrive when radical transformation is required to respond to lower student enrollments and revenue, rising costs, crushing student debt, and administrative complexity. The Modern Campus engagement platform powers solutions for non-traditional student management, web content management, catalog and curriculum management, student engagement and development, conversational text messaging, career pathways, and campus maps and virtual tours. The result: innovative institutions can create a learner-to-earner lifecycle that engages modern learners for life, while providing modern administrators with the tools needed to streamline workflows and drive high efficiency. Learn how Modern Campus is leading the modern learner engagement movement at moderncampus.comand follow us on LinkedIn. 

About The EvoLLLution 

The EvoLLLution is an online publication focused on the transforming higher education industry. Publishing articles and interviews by higher education leaders on the evolving postsecondary space since 2011, The EvoLLLution was founded by Modern Campus to create an open environment for higher education’s most innovative thought leaders to come together and set out a new vision for what the industry can be. Visit www.evoLLLution.com. 

About CAUCE 

CAUCE is a professional association of deans, directors, senior administrative personnel, and practitioners whose professional careers are in university continuing education in Canada. Serving over 50 university continuing education units across the country, CAUCE is dedicated to supporting the success of its members in serving professional and adult learners and diverse learning communities. Through our annual conference, webinars, research, and community of practice networks, we foster best practices in lifelong teaching and learning, flexible learning models, and university-community engagement. CAUCE strengthens the impact of universities through excellence in continuing education. Visit: https://cauce-aepuc.ca. 

About UPCEA 

UPCEA is the association for professional, continuing, and online education. Founded in 1915, UPCEA now serves most of the leading public and private colleges and universities in North America. With innovative conferences and specialty seminars, research and benchmarking information, professional networking opportunities and timely publications, UPCEA supports its members’ service of contemporary learners and commitment to quality online education and student success. Based in Washington, D.C., UPCEA builds greater awareness of the vital link between adult learners and public policy issues. Visit www.upcea.edu. 

Last updated: March 22, 2023

We use cookies on this website to enhance your experience and improve our services and our website’s functionality. By continuing to use our website, which includes remaining on this landing page, you consent to the use of cookies and agree to our Privacy Policy.