New Research from AACRAO, UPCEA, and Modern Campus Shows Barriers Affecting Effective Collaboration between Academic Registrar and PCE Unit.

July 24, 2023
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Contact: Corinne MacIntire 


Research from AACRAO, UPCEA, and Modern Campus Shows Barriers Affecting Effective Collaboration between Academic Registrar and PCE Unit.  

Benchmark Survey Addresses Challenges and Opportunities Faced by Professional and Continuing Education Units and Traditional Academic Programs 

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 24, 2023) – The American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO), the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA), and Modern Campus recently partnered on a survey of their respective undergraduate-serving institutional members in the United States. The report Collaboration, Competition or Convergence?: The relationship between professional and continuing education and traditional academic programs, released today. The report explores the degree to which PCE, and traditional academic programs currently operate in collaboration or competition for students and/or institutional resources.

Data from this first-look 2023 benchmark survey addresses a number of issues, challenges and opportunities that institutional professional and continuing education (PCE) units face with academic registrars and others in central administration. This includes a startling stat: 86% of respondents from institutions with existing PCE units believe that barriers exist that impact the ability of the PCE unit and the academic registrar to work closely together. These barriers include lack of common practices, policies, shared technologies and serving a common learner population.

Survey results indicate that institutional PCE practices and offerings are varied. There is no predominant model that describes the level of cooperation or competition between the PCE unit and the academic registrar. However, there are increasing opportunities for PCE, and traditional academic programs to work together to enhance learning mobility, improve college access for undergraduate-adult learners and support institution-wide student success. 

"With increasing pressures and headwinds facing the traditional higher education model, it is essential that PCE units work closely with registrars and other central administrators to develop systems and processes that support a stackable model of education,” said Bruce Etter, Senior Director of Research & Consulting at UPCEA. “This symbiotic relationship will enable institutions to efficiently serve not only traditional students, but also degree completion students as well as professional and continuing education learners."

By taking a more intentional, global and strategic approach to credential innovation, institutions can ensure equitable and accessible programs and opportunities that prepare all learners for the workforce and beyond. As institutions seek to be learner/student centric (as opposed to revenue-centered), this report sets the stage for cooperation on practice, policy and the use of technology to support various educational paths and opportunities in a more comprehensive manner.

“For decades, leaders in professional and continuing education (PCE) units have worked in parallel structures to manage programming and learners, developing best practices and operational excellence along the way. However, as their work becomes more critical to the future of the broader university, it’s essential to shrink barriers between PCE and traditional academic units like the Registrar’s Office,” said Amrit Ahluwalia, senior director of strategic insights at Modern Campus. “Research like this is central to creating a common understanding of the opportunities and challenges, and it’s our hope that this understanding leads to greater opportunities for collaboration and growth.”

Download the report to learn more about PCE practice within an institution, the type of credits and credentials offered, and the myriad of special-population programs to which learners have access.

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Modern Campus

Modern Campus is obsessed with empowering its 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. Modern Campus Presence empowers institutions to map and understand the entire student journey from Day 1, enabling learners to create learning pathways and gamify the earning of essential skills - all while streamlining organizational processes, collecting massive participation data, and assessing the impact you have on retention. Learn how Modern Campus is leading the modern learner engagement movement at and follow us on LinkedIn.

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UPCEA is the leading association for professional, continuing, and online education. For more than 100 years, UPCEA has served most of the leading public and private colleges and universities in North America. Founded in 1915, the association serves its members with innovative conferences and specialty seminars, research and benchmarking information, professional networking opportunities and timely publications. Based in Washington, D.C., UPCEA also builds greater awareness of the vital link between contemporary learners and public policy issues. Learn more at