Busting the Top Ten Myths about Continuing and Extended Education
Having worked for over 20 years in continuing and extended education—first with UC Berkeley Extension and now with the College of Continuing and Professional Education (CPIE) at California State University, Long Beach—I’ve heard and argued against a great deal of misinformation and misunderstanding regarding continuing education.
Like many continuing and extended education divisions, CPIE serves as the university’s self-support community outreach branch. Our programs are designed to meet the personal and professional development needs of over 20,000 individuals each year, and through partnerships with departments, colleges, and subject matter experts, we offer credit degree programs (courses, certificates, credentials, degrees) on a self-support basis, 450 non-credit professional development courses and international programs.
As you can imagine, working closely and creating partnerships with the university for as long as I have, I’ve heard rumors and myths about what continuing and extended education is.
So here, I’ve shared my Top Ten Myths about who we are and what we do as continuing and extended education units.
Myth #1: Continuing and extended education are separate divisions unaffiliated with the academic affairs program.
Reality: Continuing and extended education divisions are an integral part of the Division of Academic Affairs. Its primary mission is to enhance and support state-funded academic affairs program goals through the flexibility of self-support funding.
Myth #2: Continuing and extended education are for-profit organizations that operate for their own gain.
Reality: Continuing and extended education units are generally not-for-profit (albeit self-supporting), reinvesting their revenue into the university to advance larger institutional goals. Continuing and extended education units reimburse the general fund for services, pay pro-rated fees to the system office and allocate percentages of revenue to colleges, departments and other academic affairs units.
Myth #3: Since Continuing and extended education is self-supporting, it lives by its own rules.
Reality: Continuing and extended education is governed by the same titles, education codes and executive orders as the rest of the university. Across the CSU system, continuing and extended education employees are state employees subject to the same salaries, evaluations, pay increases and policies as all other CSU employees.
Myth #4: Continuing and extended education mainly hires non-university faculty to teach its academic programs and hires mostly outside consultants for its non-credit or professional development programs.
Reality: Faculty for all self-support degree programs offered in collaboration with continuing and extended education units are selected by the partnering academic college or department. In most cases, university tenured/tenure-track faculty teach in the degree programs we offer through continuing ed. Non-credit program faculty are a combination of university faculty and experienced professionals from the industry and specific professions.
Myth #5: Continuing and extended education don’t pay faculty enough to make teaching for CE worthwhile.
Reality: Within the CSU System, and at most public institutions, continuing and extended education divisions are state entities and therefore subject to all collective bargaining agreements. For CSU, salaries for self-support degree programs offered in partnership with continuing and extended education units are determined via CFA unit 3 self-support salary schedules. All non-credit program salaries are also based on the approved salary schedules from the chancellor’s office. Self-support salaries are seen by many faculty members as welcome supplemental income.
Myth #6: Faculty should not admit Open University students to their classes because there’s no financial benefit.
Reality: A significant portion of the revenue from the Open University program goes back to the partnering college. These funds are available for discretionary operating expenses like equipment and faculty travel. Since Open University students are taking only the open seats in the participating state-supported classes for which the faculty are already paid, there cannot be additional salary paid directly to the faculty.
Myth #7: Degree credit programs and activities offered via continuing and extended education units reduce or dilute campus FTEs.
Reality: Students enrolled in self-support degree and credit programs offered through continuing and extended education do not count toward the campus FTE total and therefore do not affect campus enrollment targets and plans.
Myth #8: Continuing and extended education units operate “on the fringe” with limited attention to program quality.
Reality: All degree and for-credit programs are reviewed and approved by the partnering academic college before they’re offered and require the same rigor and prerequisites as those offered on state-support. Many non-credit certificate programs are developed with the assistance of university faculty or a profession-based advisory council. What’s more, several programs are even approved by state or national accrediting bodies.
Myth #9: Continuing and extended education is an arm of the university’s foundation and runs all its programs through that agency.
Reality: Continuing and extended education is NOT part of the foundation, has never been and does not offer its programs through the foundation. At most institutions, continuing and extended education units are an integral part of the Division of Academic Affairs and are therefore under the direct supervision of the provost.
Myth #10: It is very expensive to run programs through the continuing and extended education divisions.
Reality: Continuing and extended education units carefully consider the fiscal viability of every program they offer, taking into account such factors as faculty compensation, student services, marketing and materials. Because continuing and extended education is fully self-supporting, it needs to charge a reasonable amount to cover direct operating costs. While stateside courses receive state funds that cover a significant portion of the full cost of education, there are no such subsidies available for continuing and extended education programs. The full cost of programs offered through continuing and extended education must be covered by fees alone. And these units try their best to keep costs as low as possible.
Our responsibility is to educate…internally and externally!
Having read through the top ten myths, I am sure you could add a few myths of your own to the list! Just remember to continually educate the university and campus community about who we are, what we do and how best we can assist in partnering and offering educational opportunities for our students and communities.
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Author Perspective: Administrator