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New Learners: Reach Beyond Boundaries

Call for Innovation

Propose ways reach new populations of learners with new program structures/models and/or delivery modes.


  • There is a marked decline in the traditional residential undergraduate population UNC serves, and fewer high school graduates are academically and financially prepared to attend college than in the past.
  • The demographics, academic preparation, financial capacity, needs, and interests of prospective students are increasingly diverse.
  • UNC faces increasing competition, not only from traditional universities, but also from for-profit entities and alternative education organizations. Both the number of higher education entities and the array of programs they offer are growing.
  • A significant percentage of the U.S. population has some college credit but no degree.
  • As the requirements of many professional fields rapidly evolve and become increasingly more interdisciplinary, many working adults need further education or professional development.
  • Many students, particularly nontraditional students, are looking for a combination of quality, convenience and affordability that is not yet widely available.

Examples of Opportunities

  • Degree completion—A significant number of working adults have earned some college credit. How might we offer degree or certificate programs using competency-based assessments that allow these students to progress toward a degree by demonstrating knowledge gained through prior coursework, military experience, on-the-job training, or other learning experiences?
  • International outreach—How might we structure and deliver UNC programs in other countries?
  • Accelerated degrees—How might we structure programs to lessen time to degree completion?
  • High school and community college partnerships—How might we partner with high schools or community colleges to create seamless pathways into UNC programs and to degree completion?
  • Critical thinking and leadership development—Many working adults with professional degrees need additional competencies (but not necessarily another degree) to advance their abilities to think critically, communicate effectively or advance professionally. How might we serve these students?
  • Continuing education—How might we create pathways for UNC graduates or others to return after graduation for professional development, targeted workshops, additional certifications, or other learning opportunities?


More resources can be found on the Resources page.

listservSubscribe to the New Learners listserv to discuss ideas and connect with other UNC faculty and staff by clicking on the "Join a ListServ" link or email listserv@listserv.unco.edu with a blank subject line and SUBSCRIBE INNOVATIONNEWLEARNERS in the body text.


Click here for a printable version of information on the four proposal areas.