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The University of Hawaiʻi System is one of 28 institutions nationwide selected to the Credential As You Go (CAYG) 2023 cohort. Members of the cohort are invited to participate in CAYG’s Incremental Credentials Expansion and Adoption Initiative, which focuses on informing and facilitating the development of an incremental credentialing system.

Incremental credentials, also known as microcredentials, are an evolving concept in postsecondary education and training. Although less comprehensive than a degree, they represent the attainment of a specific competency or set of skills. UH currently awards digital badges for professional development or non-credit microcredentials, as the policy is still under development for credit-based microcredentials. The most common digital badge offered is through the UH Online Innovation Center to faculty who complete the UH Online Quality Course Design Review.

“I was excited and proud when I learned that the UH System was invited to join the 2023 cohort,” said Gloria Niles, director of online learning for the UH System and co-convener of the UH Microcredentials Policy Work Group. “Being connected to other higher education institutions also working on similar initiatives provides the opportunity for the University of Hawaiʻi to contribute to the national conversations happening around incremental credentials.”

Three students sitting on a bench

Key benefits of incremental credentials include opportunities for smoother transition between education and workforce, and support for skills that are currently valued in specific career pathways. For the UH System, microcredentials that are stackable toward a degree have been identified as a key strategy for meeting learner and workforce needs.

A collaborative network

The UH Microcredentials Policy Work Group is working on developing a coherent, systemwide policy on microcredentials. As part of the 2023 CAYG cohort, the group will have access to resources and a professional network of institutions that are also working on the development and implementation of incremental credential policies.

“​​As a member of the Incremental Credentials Expansion and Adoption 2023 cohort, the University of Hawaiʻi System looks forward to collaboratively working with CAYG and other members of the cohort to collectively advance the efforts in transitioning from a degree-centric orientation toward an equitable and innovative approach to incremental credentialing,” said Niles.

Specifically, the group will collaborate with CAYG to develop a cogent definition of incremental credentials for the UH System, and to establish a taxonomy that identifies levels of incremental credentials to be awarded by UH.

“The Credential As You Go Incremental Credentials Framework will guide the next steps in policy and procedural development,” explained Niles. “Consequently, participation in the Incremental Credentials Expansion and Adoption Initiative will be of tremendous benefit to this systemwide endeavor.”

—By Alisha Churma