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On June 1, 2022, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) requested OMB approval for an extensive new mandatory data collection on noncredit education as part of the renewed clearance of the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) data collections for 2022-23, 2023-24, and 2024-25. In response to the concerns expressed regarding higher education institutions' capacity to provide such data, NCES submitted, and OMB approved, a scaled-back proposal, as follows:

In 2022-23, NCES is also adding a checkbox question about noncredit education; the results of responses to that question will help NCES to better understand the impact of noncredit education on Human Resources and Finance calculations such as student-to-faculty ratio and revenues/expenditures per FTE by allowing NCES to identify institutions that offer noncredit education. A voluntary data collection on noncredit education is being considered by NCES to supplement the IPEDS data collection (see Appendix F).

A wide range of education and training activities at postsecondary institutions occur outside of traditional credit-bearing coursework and reflect a range of educational, career, and personal offerings that can play an important role in supporting local workforce needs, preparing students for higher level coursework, and providing additional enrichment to the broader community. Noncredit activity is offered by all types of institutions but is more prevalent across some sectors or types of institutions. These institutions may view noncredit activity as an important function and part of their institutional missions. A recent study by Opportunity America estimated that 3.7 million students are enrolled in noncredit programs at community colleges (the study only included community colleges). Those students, and their outcomes, are not included in any publicly available national data collection, resulting in significant gaps in what is known about the scope or scale of noncredit activity.  

This also leads to some limitations in other parts of the IPEDS where noncredit activity is included to ease burden on institutions. In the Finance survey component, the lack of information on noncredit enrollment can lead to incorrect estimates for revenues per FTE and expenses per FTE since revenues and expenses for noncredit activities are included in the numerator, but noncredit enrollments are not included in the denominator. For example, some institutions have indicated to NCES that they have large numbers of noncredit students, which makes it appear that the institution has low per FTE spending. In Human resources, the student-to-faculty ratio includes only students enrolled for credit and instructional staff teaching credit courses, however, the survey component also instructional staff teaching exclusively noncredit courses.

Noncredit education constitutes a growing part of postsecondary and adult education. The general duties for the National Center for Education Statistics in The Education Sciences Reform Act of 2002 (20 USC 9543 (a)(1)(E)) include that The Statistics Center shall collect, report, analyze, and disseminate statistical data related to education in the United States and in other nations, including collecting, acquiring, compiling (where appropriate, on a State-by-State basis), and disseminating full and complete statistics (disaggregated by the population characteristics described in paragraph (3)) on the condition and progress of education, at the preschool, elementary, secondary, postsecondary, and adult levels in the United States, including data on access to, and opportunity for, postsecondary education, including data on financial aid to postsecondary students.  

NCES will continue to develop instructions, definitions, and FAQs related to noncredit education. In addition, NCES will be holding Technical Review Panel (TRP) meetings to help determine other elements that should be included as part of this optional collection and how to best implement the optional collection.  
IPEDS website: https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
IPEDS submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202202-1850-008. Click IC List for data collection instruments, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation. In particular:
Appendix A - IPEDS 2022-23 through 2024-25 Detailed Proposed Changes_Final.docx https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/DownloadDocument?objectID=121751302
Appendix G - IPEDS 2022-23 through 2024-25 Response to 30-day Public Comments.docx https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/DownloadDocument?objectID=123557101 [N.B. This document illustrates the influence that public comments can have on federal data collections.]
Appendix F Noncredit Education (in the IC List part of the site, for some reason) https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/DownloadDocument?objectID=123557001
TRP #62: Capturing Noncredit Enrollment and Activity in the IPEDS Surveys https://edsurveys.rti.org/IPEDS_TRP_DOCS/prod/documents/TRP62_Summary.pdf

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