WASHINGTON, July 22, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- New findings
from an annual survey on competency-based education (CBE) suggests
continued growth and interest in the flexible, workforce-aligned
model. CBE ties learning to competencies based on the actual
development of knowledge and skills, rather than seat time. The
2020 National Survey of Postsecondary Competency-Based Education
(NSPCBE), conducted during a period of unprecedented disruption in
higher education due to COVID-19, received responses from 488
institutions. This was the third annual survey, which is
administered by the American Institutes for Research.
The results, released by AIR today, found that more than 82% of
respondents expect CBE to grow nationally over the next five years.
Following the disruptions of 2020, respondents cited a perception
of a long-term shift in the higher education landscape and the
belief that CBE can help institutions respond to future disruptions
or uncertainties as having an impact on their motivation to adopt
"This study found that institutions expect CBE to keep growing
nationally, and they see it as a useful tool as they think about
the future of higher education," said report author Kelle Parsons, senior researcher at AIR. "Many
colleges are optimistic that CBE can play a role in solving many of
the core challenges of higher education, including access and
equity, completion, cost, and quality."
The survey was conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, which
caused a significant enrollment decline at many institutions
throughout the country, with over 13% fewer first-time students and
nearly 30% fewer Black, Hispanic and Native American first-time
students at community colleges in fall 2020. But many institutions
with existing CBE programs reported that their programs actually
saw increased enrollment over the last year.
"CBE has been a win-win for everyone involved," said
Ray Rice, president of University of Maine at Presque Isle. "It serves
working adults who aspire to a degree but need self-paced programs
to fit their schedules, it enables employers to hire workers with
verified competencies and credentials, and it helped our university
grow enrollment despite a pandemic and demographic declines."
The report comes as the pandemic has accelerated a shift in the
workforce toward skills-based hiring. LinkedIn has reported a 21%
increase in job postings based on skills and responsibilities and a
nearly 40% increase in jobs that don't require a degree.
Institutions are seeking to keep up with these changes, as their
top two motivations for adopting CBE were improving learning
outcomes and responding to workforce needs.
"The events of the past year have clearly demonstrated the
importance and necessity of postsecondary education as a change
lever to achieve economic advancement," said Charla Long, executive director of C-BEN. "We
are excited to see growing interest from institutions in
competency-based education as a learner-centric model that can
position them to deliver the future of higher education."
For more information on the 2020 National Survey of
Postsecondary Competency-Based Education, visit
The American Institutes for Research is a
nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that conducts behavioral
and social science research and delivers technical assistance to
solve some of the most urgent challenges in the U.S. and around the
world. We advance evidence in the areas of education, health, the
workforce, human services, and international development to create
a better, more equitable world. The AIR family of organizations now
includes IMPAQ, Maher & Maher, and Kimetrica. For more
information, visit www.air.org.
C-BEN is a network of institutions,
employers, and experts who believe competencies can unlock the
future of learning — making postsecondary education and training
more flexible, responsive, and valuable. We support stakeholders
across the spectrum of competency-based learning, from institutions
and employers who want to embed competencies into their existing
programs to those looking to design full competency-based degree
programs from the ground up. Across all our work, our aim is to
make education and training more flexible, responsive, and
valuable. For more information, visit www.cbenetwork.org.
SOURCE American Institutes for Research; C-BEN