Study tracks the increasing popularity of alternate credentials

One in four higher education institutions in North America now offer badges and three in four say that such alternate credentials are “strategically important to their future.” These are some of the headline findings of a new study from Pearson and UPCEA.

Percentage of UPCEA/Pearson survey respondents offering various types of alternate credentials, 2016 and 2017. Source: UPCEA

Percentage of UPCEA/Pearson survey respondents offering various types of alternate credentials, 2016 and 2017. Source: UPCEA

The study tracks the growing footprint of alternative credentials – which are defined as “something other than the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree” – in the professional, continuing, and online education offerings of North American universities and colleges.

“Perhaps it’s time to see if there are different ways to prepare contemporary students for an increasingly complex knowledge and information economy, using methods that take less time, cost less money, and lead more directly to quality employment,” says UPCEA President Wayne Smutz. “At least some employers are beginning to think this might be the case, as they express frustration over not being able to find qualified employees for their vacant jobs. It is this possibility to improve the way we prepare students that drives the increasing exploration of alternative credentials, such as certificates [and] badges.”

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