Academic & Faculty Programs

Academic Information Series (ACIS) - UW System

ACIS-5.4 Rev

Programming for the Non-Traditional Market
in the University of Wisconsin System

This document has been prepared as an administrative guideline to assist in the implementation of regent policy on integration between UW‑Extension and UW System institutions. These guidelines, which supersede ACIS 3, provide a format for a uniform definition of the nature and purpose of credit outreach, provide a general framework for credit outreach, and designate responsibility for credit outreach within the University of Wisconsin System.

Supercedes ACIS 5.4 dated May 1994
Other Relevant Documents:
Regent Policy, April 1982
Regent Policy, April 1985
Regent Policy, April 1988
ACIS 5.0, 5.1, 5.2, 5.3

Academic Credit for the Non-Traditional Market
(Other Than Correspondence Courses)
Regardless of Funding Source


This document provides the broad parameters for credit courses that are offered through the University of Wisconsin System and intended to serve working adults and the non-traditional market. It sets forth the principles that guide the determination of funding, and describes budget policy. A glossary of terms is included.

The University of Wisconsin System has had a long history of providing off-campus credit courses, usually through Fund 104-2, for adults unable to reach the campus sites during the typical teaching day. Fund 104-2 has provided UW institutions an option for supporting credit-granting programs for adult learners. The purpose of Fund 104-2 has been defined as service to a particular Student Client Group (SCG). By segmenting these course offerings into a self-supporting program revenue fund, the use of Fund 104-2 has allowed the institutions to provide service to adult learners without diluting the support for the traditional campus based student clientele. Service to this client group has been managed within the missions, resources, and academic policy framework of the University of Wisconsin System and each of its institutions.

In the late 1980's the University System began a deliberate plan to limit enrollments to improve the quality of education provided to all students. During the 1990s, when budgets were tight and sometimes reduced, the System remained committed to maintaining a high level of access for immediate Wisconsin high school graduates (4th highest access nationally) by reducing undergraduate and graduate enrollment of continuing adults, working adults and nontraditional students.

In the 1999-2001 biennial budget (1999 Wisconsin Act 9) the state of Wisconsin provided the University of Wisconsin System with the ability to expend all revenues on the Academic Tuition appropriation as received. The continuing appropriation authority for Academic Tuition allows the University to begin to recognize as part of its core mission the education of non-traditional students at alternative times and locations. Consequently, programs developed for the non-traditional market can be offered in Funds 101-103 as well as in Fund 104.

Enrollment Management 21 (EM21) is the University of Wisconsin System plan for enrollment targets from 2001 to 2007. EM21 is a comprehensive policy designed to meet the needs of a dynamic Wisconsin economy and to offer high quality educational services to Wisconsin citizens. Among its goals is service to the adult market with programs designed to equip students to compete in an increasingly technological economy. As a part of EM21, campuses will provide opportunities for working adults to earn degrees and/or credit-bearing certificates that will enhance their earning power, therefore improving the Wisconsin economy. EM21 includes a plan to maintain the access rate to immediate Wisconsin high school graduates, one of the highest access rates in the country, while better serving minority and disadvantaged students and reaching out to more working adult students. The changes are intended to accommodate regional and state needs while taking advantage of institutional uniqueness.

EM 21 includes 5 basic elements: maintaining core undergraduate access, expanding service to adult students, fitting graduate and professional needs to the state, expanding global experiences of students, and maintaining credits to degree. To help assure the success of EM21, the Board of Regents directed the UW System to review policies and procedures to remove operational constraints to creating new and innovative programming for non-traditional students. This policy paper is a response to that directive. In this policy, outreach to non-traditional students is defined both as outreach to high school students wishing to take college courses for credit and programming directed at working adults. This paper provides a broad description of the types of programming and funding sources that should be associated with those programs.

Enrollment Management 21 encouraged the development of polices that would be flexible enough to allow institutions to be innovative in providing services to new markets. Under EM21, authority was sought, and achieved, to allow the President of the System the authority to approve institutions' requests to charge service-based tuition and fees in response to demand for customized graduate, certificate, and other adult programs. Service based tuition/fees enable institutions to implement programs for the non-traditional market without significantly reducing support per student and therefore quality. This policy seeks to remove constraints to creating new programs.

As new programs are developed, regardless of fund, there must be a balancing of limited resources with the goal of increasing access. Programming developed for the non-traditional market should factor in the opportunity cost foregone for the traditional market. In reviewing new programs, campuses, and System Administration will evaluate their impact on overall support per student and other measures of quality. As programming for the non-traditional markets grows, institutions may meet with the President of the System and re-establish enrollment targets as long as indicators demonstrate that quality is being maintained.

Each institution has a Continuing Education Extension Committee (CEEC) representative who has been integral to developing the outreach to non-traditional students. As institutions increasingly incorporate non-traditional education into their core operation, it is important to utilize the expertise of those who have a rich history and knowledge of the non-traditional market. The UW System must coordinate the EM-21 plan and the statewide continuing education plan to provide a comprehensive approach to serving adult/non-traditional students.


The following guidelines should be used when making decisions about funding source. Exceptions may be made in special circumstances with the approval of the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and the Dean of Continuing Education Extension.

The fundamental difference in the purposes of Funds 101-103 and 104 is that Funds 101-103 should be used for established degree and credit-bearing programs and certificates offered to working adults and non-traditional students. Fund 104 may be used for innovative start-up programs; experimental programs (including certificates that are experimental, untested in the market); high school students obtaining college credit; and individual, periodic courses (including professional development for teachers).

    Institutions are encouraged to develop innovative programs to serve adult learners unable to attend on-campus during the week. A program is a series of courses linked together that lead to a certificate or a degree.
    1. New programs, when there is a known market, should be incorporated into the institution's main mission on Fund sources 101-103.
    2. Programming that is more experimental in nature should be offered through Continuing Education Extension on Fund 104-2. Experimental programs/efforts (as defined above) must be specifically approved by the offering institution(s)' Provost/Vice Chancellor(s), UW-Extension's Provost/Vice Chancellor, and, where required by ACIS 1.0 (pdf), by the UW System Administration Office of Academic Affairs.
    3. Individual, periodic courses provided by continuing education extension (as distinguished from credit-bearing certificates and degrees) should continue to be offered on Fund 104-2.
    4. Innovative or experimental programs without a known market will be evaluated periodically by the offering institution's Provost/Vice Chancellor and UW-Extension to determine whether the programs should retain their experimental status. See Appendix A for more detail on University Extension.
    UW System institutions should, where possible, provide services to high school students wishing to obtain college credit while enrolled in high school. These programs should be funded on 104-2 and will be under the oversight of the Provost/Vice Chancellor of the institution providing the programming, University of Wisconsin Extension and the Continuing Education representative of the institution. See Appendix A for more detail.
  3. Existing credit programs (as described in A. above) in Fund 104 should transition to Funds 101-103 as soon as possible, but no later than 2004. In order to accomplish this goal each institution's CEEC representative will work with the Provost in developing institutional continuing education plans. The plans may include movement of some of the costs associated with adult/non-traditional student programming from Fund 104 to Funds 101-103.

Service-Based Pricing.  Programs that are offered, in whole or in part through a face- to-face delivery mode and are specifically designed for adults should use the service-based pricing guidelines. These programs must incorporate additional services designed for these students such as flexible scheduling packages, flexible course delivery options, evening and weekend academic advising, registration, financial aid, free or special parking rates, etc., and can be priced to reflect the additional resources provided. Service-Based Pricing guidelines are attached as Appendix B. Service-Based Pricing is intended to simplify and shorten the process for developing and implementing new programs for the adult non-traditional market. Requests are approved by the President of the UW System within one month of submission. Service-Based Pricing is distinguished from Differential tuition because service-based pricing is for programming directed at the adult market, not traditional undergraduate programs.

Distance Education.  Programming that is provided exclusively by distance education, (whether to traditional or non-traditional students) falls under the distance education pricing guidelines. See Appendix C for the distance education guidelines.

Contract Instruction.  Institutions are encouraged to work with businesses to develop programming specifically designed to meet the needs of their employees. This programming may occur on site at the business, at the institution or another alternative site. Contract instruction, regardless of fund, must cover the cost of the program being offered and will not be delivered at a cost lower than the regent-approved cost per credit of traditional programs. Policies related to contract instruction can be found in FAP 44.

Institutions are also encouraged to increase the number of adult students who attend during traditional core hours. This type of additional enrollment would be accommodated within the institution's traditional enrollment capacity and at regular tuition levels. Care must be taken to ensure that the instructional support per student is not diminished by enrolling additional students at less than the full cost of instruction.


The institution's Provost/Vice Chancellor has final approval for all course offerings of the institutions, including those offered through Fund 104. In addition to reviewing the courses for compliance with this policy, the Provost/Vice Chancellors also assure that their institution will meet its Fund 101-103 enrollment and tuition revenue targets.

Fund 104-2 is specifically reserved for use in developing programs of an innovative or experimental nature (pilot programs without a tested market) and for courses targeted toward high school students seeking college credit. Institutions may also offer individual courses on Fund 104 that are not part of a program but are part of the institution's regular array of credit courses and meet the needs of working adults and non-traditional students (including teacher education courses).

Programming in 104-2 is not targeted towards the traditional on-campus student. Because of this, UW-Extension, in collaboration with UW System institutions, evaluates enrollments in all Fund 104-2 sections annually to assure that there are not substantial numbers of continuing on-campus students from the academic year enrolled in the courses. Where there are substantial numbers of such students, UW-Extension seeks resolution of this situation with the institution's Provost/Vice Chancellor and designated institutional CEEC representative.

This collaborative effort assigns to each party distinct and identifiable roles and responsibilities which can be found in Appendix A.

It should be noted that this is a dynamic period of time for the UW System and additional policy changes may be required to accommodate new programs and opportunities. Flexibility that has been granted by the Board of Regents will supercede this policy.


ACIS-5.4 Rev: 
Programming for the Non-Traditional Market in the UW System

APPENDIX A:  Roles and Responsibilities

APPENDIX B:  Service-Based Pricing Guidelines and Procedures

APPENDIX C:  Principles for Pricing Distance Education Credit Courses, Degree and Certificate Programs