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Our Research with NEBHE (New England Board of Higher Education)

Context and Background to This New England Adult Learners Study

Maguire Associates, in partnership with New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE), fielded an online survey of adults without a bachelor’s degree over the age of 25 from across New England. The survey was designed to support NEBHE’s All Learning Counts-New England initiative by collecting information on past experience with and interest in higher education programs, familiarity with prior learning assessment (PLA) and competency-based education (CBE), most desired program features, barriers to achieving a degree, and much more. The timing of the survey also allowed the partner organizations to investigate the impact of COVID-19 on desires for increased education and training.

“Improving access to post-secondary education for adult learners is of critical importance to our region’s economy and the sustainability of higher education institutions,” stated NEBHE President Michael K. Thomas. “The onset of COVID-19 has accelerated the urgency for reimagining career-connected, flexible and stackable credential pathways to meet the needs of more of our region’s residents and to help them get back to working and earning.”

Candace Williams, Director of Policy Research & Strategic Initiatives at NEBHE, added, “We have an opportunity to re-evaluate models and delivery of high value credentials, as well as determine how institutions can better reach underserved groups, especially Black and Latinx individuals who are more likely to be employed by the hardest hit industries and/or hold essential jobs.”

“Colleges and Universities are facing unprecedented financial challenges as a direct result of the uncertainty that surrounds COVID-19” says John Bonanno, CEO of Maguire Associates. “Adult learners are a population of students that have received minimal attention by most institutions. Now, more than ever, schools that are facing significant losses in both tuition and auxiliary revenue in the near future should incorporate this important cohort of potential students into their recruitment efforts.”

  • Respondents: 2,031
  • Vermont: 87
  • Rhode Island: 146
  • Maine: 173
  • New Hampshire: 176
  • Connecticut: 490
  • Massachusetts: 959

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