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Covid 19 on Already Closing Colleges… And Tougher Times Loom

April 18, 2020

Earlier this week the NYTimes Anemona Horticollis wrote an article with this title:

The problem colleges and universities of all sizes and reputations are facing is that without residential students they lose funds immediately by virtue of refunding Spring Semester room and board, lose international students— perhaps for an extended period of time, and lose enrollments for the coming year because prospective students are reluctant to commit. This paragraph from the article describes the dilemma they face:

Already, colleges have seen their endowments weakened, and worry that fund-raising efforts will founder even as many families need more financial aid. They also expect to lose international students, especially from Asia, because of travel restrictions and concerns about studying abroad. Foreign students, usually paying full tuition, represent a significant revenue source everywhere, from the Ivy League to community colleges.

The article went on to offer examples of how large and small colleges are being impacted by the pandemic and how they are responding.

Meanwhile, our local newspaper today ran an article with this title:

Vermont state college plan would shutter 3 campuses, including VTC in Randolph

Vermont’s Chancellor’s office, looking at the losses mounting up as a result of refusing room and board to its students and declining enrollment projections decided to proceed quickly to stem the losses, closing down Northern Vermont University, which has campuses in Lyndon and Johnson, and consolidating Vermont Technical College’s operations onto one Williston campus. In closing one of its campuses, VTC would “...deliver its programming using low-residency, regional delivery and distance learning methods.” The article described the realities outlined above, realities that are especially devastating to taxpayer funded state institutions because state budgets are going to be strained in both directions in the current and future fiscal years. That is, state budgets will need to increase spending on health care issues and while losing tax revenues at the state and local level.

Both articles have one common conclusion: There are no easy answers. From an optimists perspective the makes NOW the time for re-defining what constitutes a college education. I am confident articles (and posts) on that topic are forthcoming…


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