Agrégateur de flux

Tsinghua U launches int’l learning platform

The PIE News - lun, 04/27/2020 - 07:10

Tsinghua University in Beijing launched an international version of its online learning platform XuetangX on April 20 that will be made available to students and teachers around the world who have been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.

XuetangX was first launched in 2013 as part of the university’s strategic plan for online education, although it hosts courses not just from Tsinghua but also from other universities around China and has developed partnerships with institutions abroad such as the Open University in the UK.

“The scale, scope, and depth of online education in Chinese higher education are unprecedented”

Its international version has an English language interface and there are plans to add Russian, Spanish, French and Japanese versions soon.

“In order to overcome these difficult times faced by all countries in the world, China wholeheartedly supports the introduction of an international version of a Chinese higher education online teaching platform,” said director of the Ministry of Education’s higher education department, Wu Yan.

“By doing so, China can contribute to the fight against the epidemic in the sphere of higher education.”

In addition to MOOCs, XuetangX offers live broadcasts, certifications and online degree classes.

More and more students in China have either returned to school or expect to do so shortly following the suspension of all in-person classes due to the coronavirus outbreak. Almost 1,500 colleges and universities switched to online learning.

“The scale, scope, and depth of online education in Chinese higher education are unprecedented, setting off a ‘learning revolution’ and breaking important new ground in the field of higher education,” the university noted on its website.

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Don’t neglect 2021 int’l student recruitment pipeline, HEIs urged

The PIE News - lun, 04/27/2020 - 04:08

Higher education institutions and governments must be willing to challenge their assumptions about international education delivery and focus on maintaining a strong student recruitment pipeline for 2021 and beyond in order to recover from the crisis, according to a panel of education specialists discussing the impact of Covid-19 on the sector.

Speaking at the Universal College of Learning webinar ‘Covid-19: What does this mean for International Education Providers?’, experts said that while many institutions have responded to the immediate issues with mitigation measures – such as online learning, financial support through loans, and deferred or altered study periods – 200 million students globally remain unable to access their higher education.

“If you’re recruiting for 2021 it’s not advisable to take your foot off the pedal”

Addressing the immediate need is a significant challenge in itself, participants were told. However, it’s not the only one for providers, with prospective students already shying away from their future international education plans.

Chris Strodes, Market Research and Data manager at QS said their research showed two-thirds of prospective students reported Covid-19 has affected their plans to study internationally.

“At the beginning of April, 61% of students said their plans have definitely been affected, while another 30% said they’re unsure what this pandemic will mean for their international study plans.”

He said of the affected students, 63% said they will defer for a year then continue as planned, 11% will study elsewhere, 10% will cancel their plans altogether, and 17% are still to decide based on factors such as travel restrictions, and outcomes of language testing.

Strodes said it is vital institutions do not neglect their pipeline of future international students and recruiting for 2021 should be happening now.

“Our data shows the average enrolment journey is 10 months from first contact to enrolment, with an average three to five inbound enquiries [made from the prospective student]  and 15 to 30 outbound [to the student].

“If you’re recruiting for 2021 it’s not advisable to take your foot off the pedal and wait and see what happens because it’s not going to be as simple as turning the tap back on in October or November and getting those recruits in for semester one 2021,” he noted.

Strodes said there is also the added challenge of not being able to rely on face-to-face events like recruitment fairs and open days.

“Where possible there needs to be a pivoting of these events into digital events in order to replicate the traditional journey as closely as possible.”

Institutions also need to understand market shifts: for example, Strodes explained, QS data shows that overall enquiries are slightly down for the first quarter but inbound communication has increased – so fewer people showing interest, but they’re asking more questions, requiring a higher level of service.

Providers should also be examining where enquirers are coming from and comparing this data to last year’s to see if it has changed, Strodes counselled, as well as what courses are gaining or losing interest.

“What everyone should be doing is taking stock of their data and using that to personalise their communications and the ways they’re reaching out.

“There’s going to be a slightly smaller pool of international students to rely on, however, the demand is still going to be the same from institutions which means there’s going to be more competition. So, how do you compete amongst more competition? You provide more personalised services.”

“How do you compete amongst more competition? You provide more personalised services”

He said over the coming months there’s going to be an expectation to do more with less – so now is the time focus on what gets the best results to maintain a strong pipeline of international students for 2021 and beyond.

Economist and international education specialist, Keri Ramirez of Studymove, said recovery planning should also be on the radar of international education providers, listing three principles to be guided by.

Constant forecasting, he said, is something all organisations need to be doing on a quarterly – and in some cases, monthly – basis, to aid in the development of a range of scenarios and contingency plans.

The second principle, Ramirez explained, is flexibility and the ability to adapt.

“We really need to be flexible in the way we’re operating. By identifying our limitations we can start to see just how flexible we are, and what can and cannot be done.”

Ramirez said while some changes aren’t feasible, it’s worth examining things such as entry requirements, online learning delivery and changes to the academic calendar.  “At least an assessment of that will really help in the plan for recovery.”

The third principle, Ramirez said, is certainty, but acknowledged that this will be a challenge given the current high level of uncertainty.

“We need to provide students, parents and education agents with as much certainty as possible. I think it is important just to say, ‘look if you’re not able to start in February, we’re going to have this option for you, or we’re going to have a clear refund policy for you’.

“All this additional information is going to be very, very well received and is really going to help us move forward,” he noted.

Going a step further,  International Education administrator, Francisco Marmolejo, said international education providers can’t just go back to the way things were, and it is time to consider how to operate in the “new normal”.

He said the world is facing a significant economic recession on the heels of the Covid-19 crisis and the sector needs to change in anticipation.

“We need to challenge many of the assumptions we have. Do we need the traditional way to measure the ability and competencies of students? Do we need to think that face-to-face learning process should continue being the norm? Do we need to consider that all the academic content that we include in our academic programs still are valid and needed?”

Marmolejo said all these questions, and ideas such as micro-campuses and “zero semesters” must be considered, using a participatory approach to include a range of stakeholders including teachers and education agents.

“This will require more important decision making – based on evidence. Many times we base our decision on anecdotes and I think it is time to base more decisions using data,” he said.

“There is no doubt that this unchartered territory for all of us is going to be both challenging, but at the same time fascinating.”

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UK TNE a “success story” in Malaysia, report finds

The PIE News - lun, 04/27/2020 - 02:03

UK degrees offered in Malaysia – the second-largest host country for UK transnational education – have been praised as being both relevant to the local market and employment needs, as well as meeting the expectations of the UK Quality Code for Higher Education, according to a new report.

A review by the UK’s Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education – conducted in close engagement with the Malaysian Qualifications Agency – found that the quality of UK qualifications being delivered in Malaysia was similar to those delivered in the UK.

“UK TNE provision in Malaysia provides students with a high-quality experience”

“UK branch campuses offer degrees that are equivalent to those offered in the UK, with the same academic standards and the same content with appropriate contextualisation,” the report noted.

Franchised programs, typically designed by the UK university, are “essentially the same” as the same program delivered in the UK, while dual-award programs in Malaysia will remain popular from the students’ perspective due to perceived enhanced employability opportunities.

UK higher education in Malaysia is a success story for UK universities, for Malaysia as a country and, most importantly, for students taking UK degrees in the country, QAA stated.

QAA’s executive director of Operations, Vicki Stott, said the review “highlights how UK TNE provision in Malaysia provides students with a high-quality experience”.

“It’s been achieved through an investment in staff development; systems to enable the student voice to be heard and responded to; effective communication and partnership relations; and recognition of the local context,” Stott explained.

“These qualities will support UK TNE provision as it moves into a post-pandemic world.”

QAA is developing separate advice for UK TNE providers to maintain and uphold the quality standards, which will be published on its Covid-19 response page.

TNE management processes in Malaysia are “generally well developed”, ensuring standards and quality are equivalent to similar provision delivered in the UK, the report stated.

Over 50% of all non-local programs in Malaysia lead to a UK degree, with the vast majority provision taking the form of franchise or validation partnerships with local providers, it continued.

The report, however, noted that there had been a decrease in TNE student numbers in the past few years, brought about largely due to an increasingly competitive market, a developing local higher education sector and changes in local regulations.

Head Education (Malaysia) at the British Council, Prabha Sundram, suggested the report needs to be considered when analysing the post Covid-19 implications on UK TNE provision in Malaysia.

“[It] will subsequently aid us in co-creating mutually beneficial ways of supporting the TNE sector throughout this rapidly evolving situation, and beyond,” Sundram explained.

Both MQA and QAA are “fully committed to strategically work together towards enhancing the quality of higher education in Malaysia and the UK within respective legal mandates, quality assurance policies and frameworks,” deputy CEO, Malaysian Qualifications Agency, Khairul Salleh bin Mohamed Sahari, added.

TNE was also the focus of a recent webinar, in which educators urged HEIs to hone their TNE provision to mitigate the potential changes in a post-coronavirus educational landscape.

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Presidents' biggest COVID-19 worries? Low-income students and colleges' financial strain

Inside Higher Ed - lun, 04/27/2020 - 00:00

New survey of college leaders' perspectives on the impact of the coronavirus reveals deep concern about impact on neediest students, uncertainty about the future and signs that some recent changes may stick.

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Tuition freezes and cuts show colleges and universities are face downward price pressure amid coronavirus crisis

Inside Higher Ed - lun, 04/27/2020 - 00:00

The coronavirus outbreak placed sudden downward pressure on the price of attending college this spring, as students being sent home from on-campus programs demanded room and board refunds and in some cases filed lawsuits seeking partial tuition rebates.

At first glance, it may look like a short-term disruption that will resolve itself once the public health threat is over and students can go back to campus. Some of the immediate pricing pressure stems from questions about whether students are willing to pay as much for temporary online substitutes as they will for an in-person education.

But as the crisis stretches on and prospects for in-person education this fall remain shrouded in uncertainty, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the pandemic is exacerbating a larger squeeze on college prices.

Even before the coronavirus hit, many colleges and universities were finding it difficult to collect enough money from students to meet rising costs. The traditional bread and butter for four-year campuses, wealthy white high school graduates, were expected to decline in number in parts of the country in coming years. And many families struggled to pay full price for big-ticket items like higher education after the uneven recovery from the Great Recession failed to lift all incomes equally.

Now, families face a second massive economic disruption in a dozen years, even as colleges don’t know when they’ll be able to say for sure whether they will be continuing remote education in the fall or bringing students back on campus. Speculation runs rampant that student behavior will change, with some sitting out the year and others enrolling in low-cost options or colleges close to home.

The disruption comes shortly after a federal investigation prompted changes to admissions counselors’ code of ethics -- changes that on their own were expected to significantly increase recruiting competition. That leaves many colleges scrambling to provide financial aid packages large enough to keep existing students enrolled or to convince new students to enroll for the first time in the fall, whether or not campuses open.

“We’re just being inundated with conversations coming at us in waves,” said Bill Hall, founder and president of Applied Policy Research Inc., a consulting firm based in Minnesota. “‘What do we do about the rest of the spring term? How do we prepare ourselves for any wave of money which we’re adding into packaging? Then what are the criteria we use for taking an appeal?’ And then, finally, we’re at the point where people are asking, ‘What if this goes into the fall?’”

Last week, the pricing pressures burst into full view as several colleges and universities across the country announced actions ranging from tuition freezes to steep cuts to options allowing students to defer tuition payments until well after the fall semester.

The College of William & Mary announced it would roll back a planned 3 percent increase for new in-state undergraduates arriving in fall 2020. Instead, the prestigious college in Virginia expects to hold tuition and mandatory fees unchanged for all students next year. Halfway across the country, Kansas City University took a similar step, announcing a tuition freeze and killing its own planned 3 percent tuition increase.

Christopher Newport University in Virginia announced it will not increase tuition, fees and room and board for 2020-21. Delaware Valley University in Pennsylvania froze undergraduate tuition and fees.

The University System of Maine launched a program targeted at students affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Under the program, called the Maine Welcome, the system promised resident tuition status to “any successful U.S. college student or law student displaced by a COVID-19-related permanent closure of a U.S. institution of higher education.” In Ohio, Franciscan University of Steubenville rolled out a plan covering 100 percent of fall 2020 tuition for new on-campus undergraduates, after scholarships and grants.

Davidson College in North Carolina unveiled an option allowing students and families to defer payment for the fall semester for up to a year. The prominent college in North Carolina will issue bills for the fall semester in July, but all students except for seniors will be able to defer payment until August 2021. Seniors who are graduating next spring will be able to defer until April 1.

Perhaps more significant than any other move was one announced by Southern New Hampshire University, a private nonprofit with massive online enrollment and scale.

It announced plans to cut tuition for campus-based learning models by 61 percent by 2021, down to $10,000 per year. Southern New Hampshire is also offering scholarships for all incoming freshmen enrolling on campus that will cover the full cost of their first-year tuition.

Those incoming freshmen are expected to live on campus but take courses online, allowing them to participate in the experiential side of the institution. Then they can continue with the $10,000 on-campus rate in their sophomore years, when new models based on online, hybrid or project-based modalities are expected to be ready.

‘We’re Looking at Everything’

Southern New Hampshire University looks like few others because of its size, scale and online capabilities. In normal times, the private nonprofit reported 3,000 on-campus students and 135,000 students studying online.

That massive enrollment helps make possible pricing experiments that might be difficult for smaller colleges and universities. Still, Southern New Hampshire’s tuition changes are connected to the larger environment.

The university is acknowledging that freshmen are enrolling in an uncertain time by providing full-tuition scholarships for those enrolling in on-campus programs this fall.

“We really de-risk for those first-year students,” said Paul LeBlanc, Southern New Hampshire’s president. “We think this turns out to be exactly the right strategy at exactly the right time.”

Southern New Hampshire had been working toward rolling out the new model in 2023, LeBlanc said. Then the pandemic hit. Current high school seniors don’t have the luxury of waiting a few years, so the university accelerated its plans.

“It’s not our timing of choice, but it’s what we need to do,” LeBlanc said. “This is not a response to the challenges of September 2020. It’s actually much more a response to the recession and this astonishing level of unemployment.”

LeBlanc cautions against seeing Southern New Hampshire’s announcement solely as a single-year pricing move. It’s paired with significant efforts to improve pedagogy and rethink assumptions about the way on-campus education works. Even though it’s being put in place on an accelerated schedule, the university has been laying the groundwork for quite some time.

“We’re looking at everything,” LeBlanc said. “We’re looking at the whole student life cycle. How do we leverage the kind of technology and platforms that we’ve built? How do we think differently about the structure and term of the academic year? Could we move to a 12-month academic year? Could we contemplate the student going around the calendar and graduating in two years, which removes two years of opportunity costs?”

That parallels something experts often say about pricing conversations: a college’s price is best considered in concert with market position, long-term strategy and developments in the broader higher education environment.

“There is downward pressure in pricing, but what we’re seeing is that what each institution should do is idiosyncratically different from what every other institution should do,” said David Strauss, a principal at Art & Science Group, a Baltimore-based consulting firm. “If you can’t afford to study and get the right answer, it’s usually the wrong answer over the long term.”

‘You Have to Be a Very Good Listener to the Market’

Signs of pricing pressure existed long before the coronavirus crisis exposed them.

The National Association of College and University Business Officers conducts an annual Tuition Discounting Study that looks at the sticker prices four-year private nonprofit colleges and universities post, the amount of financial aid they provide and the tuition discount rates that reveal what percentage of sticker prices institutions never actually collect from students. That study has also examined net tuition revenue -- the amount of money institutions do collect from students.

Net tuition revenue was largely flat in recent years, according to the 2018 discounting study, the most recent available. Across all types of private institutions in the study, net revenue per first-time, full-time freshman rose by just 0.4 percent without adjusting for inflation in 2018-19. It fell by 0.8 percent in 2017-18.

“I think there’s been downward pressure on price now for some years,” LeBlanc said. “It’s been a little bit masked for many privates because of the way it’s manifested in the discount rate. They have been effectively lowering their price without saying it publicly across many institutions.”

Even so, the current crisis is accelerating that pressure. Research is showing that students and families are thinking about staying closer to home than they normally would, according to Stephanie Dupaul, vice president for enrollment management at the University of Richmond.

“This is already the safety-focused generation; this will just increase that focus,” she said in an email. “And cost has become a significant factor as these high school students are now watching their parents go through a second economic crisis.”

Even well-off students seem likely to try to minimize risks in this environment, said Allen Koh, CEO of Cardinal Education, an education consulting firm that caters to wealthy families seeking admission to elite institutions.

“You’re going to start seeing an unprecedented number of kids who are going to college in the fall who will do summer school at a community college to try to get some general education requirements cheaply,” he said. “You’re going to see a lot more students take three years to graduate, and you may even see this impact medical schools and law schools.”

Different admissions officers and experts have theorized that well-off families could hedge their bets by putting down deposits at multiple colleges. Doing so would allow them to select the best option of price, prestige and location once the extent of pandemic-related shutdowns becomes clear for the fall, all while dodging traditional spring commitment deadlines.

It would also throw enrollment, yield and summer melt models into disarray over the summer, leaving some colleges without their most lucrative students on short notice.

Some experts also believe gap years could become more popular if students don’t want to take the risk of enrolling at all in an uncertain environment. Other students may scrap all plans to attend college, particularly if mounting financial troubles make higher education seem unattainable for first-generation students or those with little savings. Data show declining completion rates for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, indicating that at least some students may be rethinking college attendance next year.

At the same time, students who would have been likely to attend prestigious second-tier institutions are now focused on entering the Ivy League, Koh said. Families that continue to have a large amount of wealth -- those that pay the full cost of tuition -- are always sought after. But they’re even more valuable to colleges today, when less wealthy students have larger financial needs and rising coronavirus-related costs are stretching budgets across the board.

In other words, wealthy families suddenly enjoy even more leverage than they had before. The most prestigious institutions in the country are most able to choose their students, so they are most able to shield themselves from pricing pressures.

“Very prestigious schools and schools with strong endowments, they won’t do anything on pricing for at least this admissions cycle, maybe two,” Koh said. “It’s hard to raise prices after a massive deduction. Plus, universities just have too many fixed costs.”

Still, universities of all types could feel at least a net revenue pinch because of uncertainty in international student enrollment. As wealth levels and the number of traditional high school graduates have leveled off in the United States, many colleges and universities leaned heavily on international enrollment, which produces a large number of students paying high prices.

Now, Koh asks if international students will be able to fly to the United States to attend college in the fall. Will the federal government grant them visas? Will they want to come?

All those pressures translate to difficulty for institutions that would normally be considered safe from enrollment and pricing shocks. That makes moves such as Davidson’s tuition deferral worth watching closely.

The deferral option at Davidson applies to tuition and fees as well as room and board for the fall. All or part of family contributions can be postponed. Davidson left open the possibility of expanding the deferred tuition option to the spring 2021 semester.

A Davidson spokesman declined to provide any estimates of financial costs associated with the deferral option being offered to students because of uncertainty. In emailed responses to questions, he emphasized the college’s community.

“The option to defer fall tuition springs from the sense of community that makes Davidson distinctive,” the spokesman wrote. “We share in each other’s celebrations and support each other in our struggles. This is an expression of who we are. The option to defer payments is an act to help our students and their families, to make it easier for students to return to -- or start -- their educational experience at Davidson.”

Depending on how it’s structured, such a deferral program could carry risks for students, families and colleges. It could mean families facing not one but two tuition bills next year, experts pointed out. If families can’t pay, any college offering a deferral plan will be left with a financial hit.

Even so, it’s one way to shift billing and address short-term market shocks.

Other colleges and universities that rely on the on-campus experience to attract students may not have the financial resources to spot families the cost of tuition for a significant period of time. Tuition-dependent small private liberal arts colleges that tout small class sizes and intimate campuses are scattered across the country. What happens if they’re unable to leverage that close community to attract new students in the fall?

What happens if the pandemic prevents students from returning to campus in the fall, prompting rising sophomores or juniors not to re-enroll? What if those students reason that paying a liberal arts tuition for an online experience makes no sense when they can just as easily pay a lower price point at a fully online college?

Melody Rose was the president of Marylhurst University outside of Portland, Ore., when it closed in 2018. She is now working on a book tentatively titled Achieving Graceful Transitions in Higher Education and is a senior consultant for the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges.

“I think if you’re a small private or public regional institution without a lot of investment capacity in an online pivot, and the very reason people select you -- the community, the intimacy of small in-person classes -- is gone, then you may be facing an existential crisis by fall of 2020,” Rose said.

Should the coronavirus force campuses to remain closed in the fall, long-term questions about pricing pressure may fade into the background in lieu of the newly burning question of for what, exactly, students at traditional campuses were really paying. Was it credit hours or the full in-person experience, rich with living among fellow students, taking part in activities and receiving a full slate of support services?

As much as some administrators may want to argue that students will be willing to pay full cost for a short-term remote learning substitute, the spate of class action lawsuits filed after students were sent home this spring suggests other scenarios.

For now, however, that question remains part of a larger environment of uncertainty that continues as spring admissions season enters its critical phase. Hundreds of universities have postponed decision day, when deposits are due, from May 1 to June 1. Coming days and weeks will still be crunch time, when many high school seniors will decide where to attend college after summer’s end.

“It’s difficult to feel very confident about how some of these key value points might play out, and that’s especially true in that competition for students,” said Peter Stokes, managing director at the consulting firm Huron’s education strategy and operations group. “You have to be a very good listener to the market in order to compete effectively in a highly dynamic situation.”

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Colleges rev up cuts as pandemic-related costs keep mounting

Inside Higher Ed - lun, 04/27/2020 - 00:00

In February, shortly after the first coronavirus case was confirmed in the United States, Barbara Mistick didn’t think the pandemic would have such a staggering impact on colleges.

“I was still traveling,” said Mistick, president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. “The conversation started in February with study abroad. I don’t think any of us saw the study abroad conversation leading to this total shutdown and impact on every single revenue source.”

Unforeseen expenses cropped up almost immediately. In early March, many colleges paid to bring students back from study abroad programs and lost money on prepaid tickets and hotel stays.

Since, the costs have only continued piling up. Canceled events, student move-outs, room and board refunds, scaled-up cleaning procedures, and online teaching have all brought unanticipated expenses.

Experts have for weeks been calling the pandemic an unprecedented financial challenge for colleges. To mitigate the financial burden, a growing number of colleges has announced employee pay cuts, furloughs and layoffs. They continued at a rapid pace last week.

Recently Announced Cuts at Colleges

  • Penn State University counts losses exceeding $100 million since March and expects another $160 million revenue loss next fiscal year, prompting actions including salary adjustments and 3 percent across-the-board cuts.
  • The University of Akron plans to cut academic and athletic programs and freeze hiring, plus implement some salary reductions and 20 percent cuts to athletic and nonacademic administrative expenses.
  • Lafayette College has implemented a hiring freeze and executive pay cuts, suspended employee salary increases and deferred nonessential capital projects to mitigate a loss of at least $7.6 million.
  • The University of Louisville will implement a 1 percent pay cut for faculty and some staff and furlough some workers, in addition to previous cuts for top administrators and faculty.
  • Boise State University will implement a tiered furlough structure, tying the number of furloughed days to salary amounts. The university has so far suffered a $10 million loss.
  • Trinity Washington University is not filling open positions and has temporarily eliminated some campus services, such as shuttle service to the Metro.
  • The University of Kentucky will implement layoffs, furloughs and hiring freezes in the face of a $70 million budget shortfall.
  • Northwestern University froze faculty and staff pay, in addition to a hiring freeze.
  • At Miami University in Ohio, many contingent faculty contracts will not be renewed for the upcoming academic year.
  • Syracuse University has lost $35 million and is planning pay cuts and hiring freezes.
  • Johns Hopkins University is expecting to make furloughs and layoffs. It faces a $100 million loss for fiscal 2020 and $375 million for fiscal 2021.
  • Washington University in St. Louis will furlough 1,300 employees for 90 days, many of whom are on the medical campus. The university so far faces a $60 million loss.
  • Anticipating a $200 million budget shortfall, Rutgers University has implemented a hiring freeze, banned university-sponsored travel and halted noncontractual pay increases, among other steps.

In a detailed austerity memo, Johns Hopkins University president Ronald Daniels warned of expected furloughs and layoffs to be made at the departmental level. The university is projecting a net loss of $100 million for fiscal 2020 and up to $375 million for fiscal 2021. “More than 1,200 employees have been rendered idle because they are unable to perform their duties,” Daniels wrote. “Many more are working off-site but at significantly reduced levels of productivity.”

The University of Louisville will implement a 1 percent pay cut for faculty and some employees making between $58,000 and $99,000, on top of a previous cut for faculty and administrators making $100,000 or more. The university has also halted contributions to employee retirement accounts.

Boise State University has implemented a tiered furlough structure for staff, tying the number of furloughed days to salary amounts. The university has so far suffered a $10 million loss.

The University of Kentucky will implement layoffs, furloughs and hiring freezes in the face of a $70 million budget shortfall. Northwestern University froze faculty and staff pay, in addition to a hiring freeze. At Miami University in Ohio, many contingent faculty contracts will not be renewed for the upcoming academic year. Syracuse University has lost $35 million and is planning pay cuts and hiring freezes.

The list goes on.

Personnel cuts are arguably the most dire cost-cutting measures colleges take, but Richard Ekman, president of the Council of Independent Colleges, an association for private institutions, has seen plenty of different, less newsworthy budget trimming. He noted that many colleges have halted retirement contributions, reduced employee benefits contributions and cut into faculty travel and sabbatical budgets.

Ekman also mentioned that some colleges are taking the opportunity to re-examine their use of space on campus and planning out more socially distant course schedules that could be implemented in the fall.

“You know the saying, ‘Never let a good crisis go to waste,’ if it enables you to take a look at other issues,” he said, noting that reconsidering academic schedules "should have been done all along."

Mistick of NAICU added that many construction projects are on hold, in part due to current state restrictions on construction.

Fall enrollments will be a key factor in budget projections for the next fiscal year. Ekman believes that current predictions, many of them negative, are not based on hard evidence.

“I’ve seen enrollment projections … that range from a loss of 5 percent to a loss of 40 percent,” he said. “The problem is it’s too early to tell. There’s not enough good information to base a prediction from any given college.”

Mistick worries about attrition among current students. She suspects some students will drop out as a result of the sudden disruption, and others will consider taking a break while courses remain online.

In Pennsylvania, a potential 5 percent decline in fall enrollment will result in a $300 million loss across the state’s 92 independent colleges, she said. A 15 percent decline could lead to a nearly $1 billion loss.

The pandemic and resulting economic downtown is a two-front war. While costs increase, revenue streams dwindle.

“Tuition does not cover the full cost of attendance at institutions,” Mistick said. “Auxiliary, room and board, everything from parking for events that are held on your campus make a tremendous contribution to our institutions. Cultural events, sporting events, facility rentals, all of those things.”

It’s too soon to tell when regular revenue streams will return, according to Ekman.

“I think it will vary regionally as the hot spots of the virus move around the country,” he said.

It's tempting to compare the current situation to other recent events that caused significant financial turmoil. Mistick believes this is a much more significant disruption.

“I don’t think we’ve ever experienced a moment like this before in higher ed,” Mistick said. “Folks say, ‘Hey, could you compare this to 2008 or Sept. 11?’ There is just no comparison.”

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April 27 roundup: Special Q&A, canceled internships and a cursed video

Inside Higher Ed - lun, 04/27/2020 - 00:00

Another week, almost another month.

It's weird to think that parts of the country may be opening up soon. And concerning to think about what might happen as a consequence of those choices.

Let's not dwell on those thoughts now. Instead, here are some palate cleansers (or, perhaps, we could call them "reality chasers") with which to clear your mind.

I have seen this cursed video of a talking cat from American University, and now you all must, too.

@AmericanU⁩ most beloved Wonk Cat has a special message to share. Touch her picture to listen pic.twitter.com/Jr5jCCHUh4

— AUArboretum (@AUArboretum) April 22, 2020

This is not a cursed video. It's simply a way for me to vicariously live through fit people as I continue to avoid running. It's also just generally cool.

Black girls doing “Double Dutch” has always been a staple throughout the inner cities for decades. One of the Greatest mixes of Skill, Agility, Rhythm & Intellect

Delores x De’Shone x Adrienne x Nikki x Robin aka “THE FANTASTIC FOUR”

Lincoln Center in NYC (1980s)#REPRESENT pic.twitter.com/UCnrEPvAxy

— REPRESENT (@Represent_NYC_) April 23, 2020

Need a chuckle? Mashable rounded up some of the best tweets of the past week. (Featuring Big Poppa, and absent the giant baby drama.)

Let’s get to the news.

Antitrust lawyers are concerned that colleges may be colluding to not lower tuition prices for online semesters, which would violate antitrust laws. They allege prominent universities already have met to discuss canceling open houses for international students.

The American Association of State Colleges and Universities criticized Education Secretary Betsy DeVos's decision to exclude students in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program from federal emergency grant funds.

Another college said it intends to open in the fall. This time, it's the University of Mary Washington, a public university in Virginia.

Rutgers University in New Jersey announced it's facing a revenue shortfall of $200 million -- and plans to freeze hiring, slash salaries and pause construction projects.

A survey found that 35 percent of summer internships have been canceled. The economic prospects for Gen Z are not looking good.

Here’s a quick roundup of our latest stories, in case you’ve fallen a bit behind (we don’t blame you):

Colleges scrambled together some semblance of a spring term just in time. There are plans for a mostly remote summer. But what about fall? Lilah Burke delves into what's on everyone's minds.

Athletics departments are cutting programs, and college athletes are losing what they worked hard for, Greta Anderson reports.

Marjorie Valbrun has the story on how stimulus funding is helping black colleges weather this storm.

News From Elsewhere

EdSurge looked at how residential colleges can sell an online experience.

Education Dive has a story on how college counseling offices are contracting with remote counseling companies to help students.

Could antibody testing help colleges reopen safely in the fall? The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on the complications that could come with that.

Percolating Thoughts

This is a time when everyone has an opinion. As journalists, we try not to have opinions, but we've gathered some interesting ones from others.

A college president and student body president urge people to connect across generations and use that collaboration to get through the pandemic.

The president of the Institute for College Access & Success wrote in Forbes about what he thinks Congress should do to help colleges.

I spoke last week with Carrie Billy, president of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, about how tribal colleges and their students are dealing with the pandemic. The conversation covered a lot of important ground and got a bit emotional because of what's at stake. I know it's a Monday morning, but I highly recommend you keep reading.

Q: Some reports say the number of COVID-19 cases in tribal nations is rising quickly. Are people in the tribal-college communities fearful?

A: I think it’s regional, kind of like it is around the country. Originally, people at the tribal colleges probably thought it would not be as bad in rural America, and because the ability of people to social distance is a little easier. They were worried and definitely were following the governors' and the tribal leaders’ recommendations and then mandates, but now we’re seeing how quickly it can spread in rural America and Indian country. And then there are the challenges that everyone’s read about -- the lack of water in a number of homes, lack of electricity, very few hospitals, mostly just the Indian Health Service facilities.

People are becoming more worried, but I think the tribal colleges and Native people in general, we just had a lot of hardship and lived through a lot of hardship. I think people have that kind of feeling -- this is another challenge that we will come through together.

Q: Have all tribal colleges gone online due to coronavirus?

A: They’ve all gone online or to some form of distance education, because again, tribal colleges are rural, so some didn’t feel like moving predominantly online would work for them. So they’re doing the old-fashioned distance education. Whether that’s online, by telephone or teleconferences, or sending out packets and then students are taking their packets, having phone calls with their faculty, and then they deliver packets back to the library book drop at the college.

We always saw American Indians as resilient, but everyone is resilient in times like this. So whatever works, they’re doing.

Q: What are the biggest challenges institutions are facing with that switch?

A: One of our biggest challenge right now is with career education. Tribal colleges are primarily two-year institutions, although a number offer four-year degrees. But really they’re place-based institutions that are focused on their communities, so they do a lot of workforce development, career and technical education. Figuring out how to offer those courses so students don’t get too far behind is one of our biggest challenges.

Another challenge is moving to an entirely new way of teaching and learning with very little preparation. That’s a challenge that fortunately, or unfortunately (but at least we’re in this together), all institutions of higher education are facing. But for tribal colleges, it’s worse because we’re trying to do it in a part of the country that has very little access to the internet. The tax credits for internet service providers to provide hotspots for students to take home and access the internet -- those don’t work for most of our students in our communities because there are no towers for those hotspots to access.

What we’re finding with our colleges is that they’re going to have put in the community internet access. So not only are they shifting to online learning or different forms of education, but they’re also having to put in community-based hotspots. The idea is that students would then have an access point that’s closer to their homes than the college, because some of them are driving 100 miles, 50 miles one-way to go to school. So, an access point closer to homes, and then they sit in their cars and do their homework or participate in the course.

Q: So, are tribal colleges essentially building their own infrastructure?

A: They are building their own infrastructure of internet. A lot of it can be done fairly reasonably priced if you’re working with the right people. It’s still expensive, but not nearly as expensive as laying fiber, which would be extremely time-consuming. Right now, students are coming to the colleges and sitting in the parking lots of the college in their cars.

Q: What are the biggest challenges students are facing?

A: One of the positive things is that all the presidents and faculty I’ve talked to over the past few weeks have said that students are adjusting remarkably well. We thought it was going to be horrible and that they were going to have a really difficult time. But most students, if they can get internet access, are adjusting.

There are lower dropouts. There are still some students who the colleges haven’t been able to find. But because tribal colleges are place-based, really focused on their students and student success, and looking at the students holistically, the faculty are calling students, really engaging with them to get them to come to class online. That’s one of the most positive things about this whole experience, that our students are really showing up and committed to education.

The biggest challenges that they’re facing are just financial challenges. Even before this, financial challenges were the No. 1 issue affecting tribal college students and the stopping out of our students. Now, you have whole families in very small houses trying to survive without incomes or very low income. That’s why things like the Department of Education’s emergency student aid, the American Indian College Fund emergency aid program, those kinds of things so we can just help our students live their lives so they have the space to continue their education, are really critical. About 80 percent of our students are Pell-eligible, prior to this, so that kind of gives you the idea of the needs.

A couple other issues -- it’s all related to lack of equipment. They don't have laptops at home, and our colleges don’t have enough laptops right now for most students to check out a laptop. That’s another reason some of them are sitting in the parking lot, because they actually come to the school, check out a laptop, take it to their car, access the internet, do their work. Some colleges have bought phones so they’re able to access internet from a hotspot that the colleges are putting up. But just trying to get the equipment to the students is the other big challenge. Once they have that, we think that they’re doing pretty well.

Q: Are most students losing their jobs?

A: If they work at the tribal college, they are being protected. Others, we have a number of casinos, and all of those are shut down. Stores are closing. So that’s a big challenge for our students. Not just the students, but their families that they’re living with.

The majority of our students, like all community college students, are part-time students. The only downside for us about the Department of Education’s emergency student aid formula is that it’s heavily weighted toward residential, large institutions. The more part-time students an institution has, the lower their funding level because of the estimates that the Department of Ed is making.

It maybe should be opposite, because, if they’re already working, they clearly need the income to survive and to go to school. If you take away their ability to work and then their ability to access emergency aid is less than a student who was at a larger institution going full-time, it makes it difficult. We’re dealing with it. There has to be some formula, and unfortunately it’s that.

Q: How are colleges dealing with that? We’ve seen some institutions close or talk about mergers. Are any tribal colleges thinking about those things?

A: It doesn’t look that bad yet. But it could be that it’s because we have been so focused on just getting through to the end of the semester. Our schools are just, over the past week or so, beginning to look more long-term. There are a couple factors that maybe are a little unique to tribal colleges that make the situation dire.

If they close, it’s not going to be for the same reasons that the small liberal arts schools close -- students dropping out, or not coming back and living on campus. Our tribal colleges are dependent on the federal government for their institutional operation funds because of treaty obligations and trust responsibility. Hopefully that will continue.

But because that support from the federal government is so low and our tuition is very low, they also get some supplemental support from the tribes. Not all the tribal colleges, but a lot do. Last year, tribal colleges got about $33 million in operating funding from their tribes.

Some tribes have already told the colleges you’re getting cut, we’re not going to be able to provide that, so expect a 20 to 50 percent cut, a 100 percent cut. One tribe gives a payment to the college in two installments throughout the year, and they’ve already told them, “We’re not going to be able to make the second payment.” So that’s an immediate loss of funds. When you’re looking at small institutions and small budgets, that’s a lot of money to be taken out, so that’s a real worry for us.

Declining enrollment means lower tuition, even though we have pretty low tuition. The average tuition is less than $4,000 per year for a four-year degree. But it’s still a loss of income, and it starts adding up. Every year the colleges write off about $4 million in tuition payments. We expect that’s going to be higher next year.

When you start looking long-term, it does get bleaker.

Q: What do you think the long-term effects of this pandemic will be on those the tribal colleges serve?

A: Tribal colleges were created to do two things. One, to preserve their tribe’s culture, language, history and traditions. The loss of that is just inconceivable.

You might have heard some of the Navajo people talking about elders, who are most at risk. Northern Cheyenne Chief Dull Knife College has fewer than eight native speakers, except for the people who are being trained at the tribal college. If we lose them and then we lose the college, we’ve lost tribes and tribal identity. That is something that we cannot allow to happen.

The other reason is workforce development, to help lift our communities out of generational poverty, to be strong sovereign tribal nations, to determine their own destiny. To not have the workforce development, the career opportunities, the training of tribal foresters, water hydrologists, nurses, Native teachers -- that just sets us back generations. So we will not let that happen.

Q: What do you plan to fight for to prevent that from happening?

A: We’re continuing to work with Congress to try to allocate funding for tribal colleges in emergency legislation, the CARES Act and in future bills.

We work with our tribes and also work with our other partners. We have a coalition with our minority-serving institutions who are all coming together to advocate collectively for our needs, which has been tremendously helpful. We’re also creating coalitions with other Native organizations and programs.

Tribal colleges train in their communities the vast majority of nurses and other workers at Indian Health Service facilities. We’re working with them to try to get the message out for the need to holistically provide support. We’re not just asking for funds -- it really is an investment in the future of Native America.

I noticed one thing that the Department of Education said. They had a listening session on the funding from the education stabilization fund on Friday. One half of 1 percent goes from Department of Education to the Bureau of Indian Education. Someone from the Department of Education put at the bottom of the session's announcement something like, "Should all the money go to K-12, or should it go to tribal colleges as well? Because tribal colleges, it should be noted, got $20 million in the CARES Act."

Twenty million dollars for 35 institutions is barely a drop in the bucket. So for someone at the Department of Education to say something like that is just unbelievable. They're trying to create tension and dissension among Indian tribes and Indian programs when we all should be working together.

Q: What would help tribal colleges get through this?

A: We think that what was in the CARES Act is tremendously helpful, and we are so grateful for that. The emergency student aid -- our colleges are so excited to be getting that money, to get it out to the students, so that’s critically important. The foundation that was laid in the CARES Act is really great.

What we need in the future is what everyone needs. We just need the support, the investment to continue until we get over this challenge. Then tribal colleges will continue to survive and flourish and serve their tribes and their nations just like they always have done. We think it’s just a short-term need, but it’s not something that can stop. I don’t think the programs need to change, it’s just that the resources need to be committed.

Q: How did we get to this point, where tribal colleges and nations are struggling with the switch to remote learning so much?

A: It’s kind of that equity question where, if you just continue things the status quo, giving equal amounts of funding or using a percentage funding to fund different programs, we’re never going to catch up. That’s the situation we’re in now, particularly with our federal programs.

Our Title III programs, or even our operating funding, Congress will increase by a certain percentage every year or not increase for several years. But because we have been historically underfunded, we’re never going to dig out of the hole we’re in. People need to shift the way they’re looking at funding programs and look at equity and the real needs of institutions and the students we’re serving. If they don’t do that, it’s not going to change, we’re going to continue to struggle. We’ll do the best we can, but we’ll continue to struggle.

This is really sad. We’re all working from home, but we had these boxes of old [American Indian Higher Education Consortium] archives, so I brought some of them home to go through. I found testimony from 1978, which doesn’t seem like that long ago, but that was the year that Congress authorized the Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities Assistance Act. That authorizes the operating for funding for most of the tribal colleges because of treaty obligations and trust responsibility.

I read that testimony. Basically, I could just erase the date and the number of colleges, and the requests, the needs are the same. It’s really, really sad to think 45 years later, our needs have not changed.

The infrastructure isn’t there. The colleges are in better facilities, but the communities are facing the same challenges, our colleges are facing the same challenges.

It’s the same with the digital divide. We worked on a big initiative in the early 2000s to get tribal colleges at least one T1 line, because most of them at that time had dial-up internet access. Now, you look at the Verizon map or the AT&T map of this country, you can tell where Indian country is, because it’s all the places that there are big voids on those cellular phone maps.

It just doesn’t change because we’re a small percentage of the population. We don’t have a lot of representation, particularly in the House. It’s hard to get people to prioritize funding for our institutions and our people.

Q: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

A: We will get through this.

We have weekly calls with our presidents, and we try to do weekly webinars with the colleges. We start every one of them with a prayer and end them with a prayer, and it’s just really great to feel that sense of community even though we can’t be together.

That’s what keeps us going, I think that’s what keeps all of us going. We all have better days ahead, and we will get through this together.

Have any percolating thoughts or notice any from others? Feel free to send them our way or comment below.

We’ll continue bringing you the news you need in this crazy time. Keep sending us your questions and story ideas. Like Billy said, we’ll get through this together.

Editorial Tags: CoronavirusFinancial impactsNative AmericansImage Source: ISTOCKPHOTO.COM/FPMIs this diversity newsletter?: Newsletter Order: 0Disable left side advertisement?: Is this Career Advice newsletter?: Magazine treatment: Trending: Display Promo Box: Live Updates: liveupdates0

Chronicle of Higher Education: Distanced Learning

Covid-19 is worsening the hardships that will follow low-income high-school students to college — if it doesn’t prevent them from getting there in the first place.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Covid-19 Sent LGBTQ Students Back to Unsupportive Homes. That Raises the Risk They Won’t Return.

Vulnerable students lost their affirming communities when they left campus. Professors and administrators are offering remote support.

Chronicle of Higher Education: Welcome to the College Presidency. Oh, the House Is on Fire.

The Covid-19 pandemic will test the mettle and ingenuity of even the most seasoned college leaders. But some of them are brand new to the job.

Canada lifts limits on “essential” workers

The PIE News - ven, 04/24/2020 - 07:12

The Canadian government has announced that it will lift work limits for international students whose jobs provide an “essential service”,  in a bid to support the country’s workforce in key areas.

As part of the temporary rules, students will be able to work in excess of 20 hours a week while classes are in session – provided they are working in an essential service or function, such as health care, critical infrastructure, or the supply of food or other critical goods.

“International students who are already present in Canada will help meet the challenges of the pandemic”

The measures will remain in place until August 31, according to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

“Immigrants, temporary foreign workers and international students are making important contributions as frontline workers in health care and other essential service sectors,” said minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship, Marco Mendicino.

“We know and value their efforts and sacrifices to keep Canadians healthy and ensure the delivery of critical goods and services.”

In a statement, the department said that during the Covid-19 outbreak, workers in certain roles and industries have been under considerable pressure.

“The government recognises that international students who are already present in Canada will help meet the challenges of the pandemic,” it said.

Statistics Canada reported that in 2017–2018, more than 11,000 international students were enrolled in health-care programs at Canada’s universities and colleges, representing about 4% of healthcare students at that time.

The department said that international students and their employers should consult Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada guidance to determine if the work the student is doing would allow them to work more than 20 hours per week during the academic session.

The move comes after the Canadian government announced a CAD$9 billion support package for post-secondary students and recent graduates. The plan will help provide the students financial support through the summer and help them start their careers.

New measures will see the creation of the Canada Emergency Student Benefit, which would provide support to students and new graduates who are not eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. However, it will not benefit international students in Canada.

According to CTVNews, CESB will only be available for Canadians studying in Canada or Canadian citizens who are completing their post-secondary degrees abroad.

“To promote a sustainable economic recovery, we need a strong workforce and good job opportunities for young people,” said the prime minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau.

“That means giving them the support they need to continue their studies and encouraging them to serve their communities. Together, we will get through this difficult time.”

The post Canada lifts limits on “essential” workers appeared first on The PIE News.

Interest in studying in Germany grows as Covid-19 response praised

The PIE News - ven, 04/24/2020 - 06:42

While an increasing number of students who would have been heading to the UK and the US this autumn say they are considering changing their study plans, many are turning to destinations such as Germany that have responded better to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Germany’s popularity among international students is growing based on the first results in dealing with Covid-19. Germany has one of the best health care systems in the world,” said Akos Kiraly, director of marketing and recruitment at Lancaster University Leipzig.

“More demand does not mean more enrolment in this situation. There are still a lot of mobility obstacles in place”

“I anticipate that Germany’s international student numbers will grow even stronger in the near future, especially from the EU, as many students will need to look for alternative options within the EU with English-taught programs.”

The world’s two top study destinations – the US and the UK – haven’t exactly been praised for their handling of the coronavirus outbreak. Borders remain closed in the US, while the UK remains on lockdown with no end in sight.

Whether students choose to study in Germany over other destinations, however, may have more to do with these destinations and their ongoing response to coronavirus.

Despite free tuition, top institutions and English-taught programs, Germany attracts fewer international students than its more expensive counterparts.

“Public health is not the only relevant factor. For example, I do believe Italy’s popularity will actually grow,” said Study.EU founder Gerrit Bruno Blöss.

“Our statistics already indicate student interest at previous levels. The country was hit hard, but Italians showed remarkable morale, and thanks to social media everyone worldwide took notice.”

Additionally, Edwin Van Rest, CEO of Studyportals, said Germany “stands to benefit”, but is cautious about the overall impact.

“More demand does not mean more enrolment in this situation. There are still a lot of mobility obstacles in place,” he added.

Meanwhile, new data from DAAD and DZHW shows that the number of international students in Germany continued to rise in 2019, reaching 394,665 international students overall.

In 2015, 207,804 Bildungsausländer (foreign students who did their high school qualifications outside Germany) were studying for a degree at German universities. By 2019, this number had risen to 276,122.

Graph: DAAD/ DZHW

Germany has a more diverse range of sources of international students than other top destinations. Although China still makes up 13.2% of the international student body, with 39,871 Chinese citizens studying in Germany last year, the top 10 source countries account for only 45% of all international students.

This is compared to the US where 71.6% of international students come from the 10 largest source countries, and 65% in the UK.

After India in second position, the third most common source country for international students in Germany is Syria (4.3%).

Around three out of four international students in Germany are studying at bachelor’s or master’s level. Berlin, Saxony and Thuringia have the most international students, with the latter two having overtaken Saarland and Brandenburg since 2014.

Interestingly, it’s not just in-person classes though that are getting more attention right now.

“We are also seeing a higher number of international students enrolling in online programs at German universities”

“We are also seeing a higher number of international students enrolling in online programs at German universities,” said Gent Ukehajdaraj of Studying in Germany.

“It also means international students can get a German degree without having to apply for a visa or spend significantly more money to come to Germany, while at the same time having access to all the benefits that a German degree offers such as the post-study work visa. We think distance learning will be a ‘new normal’ after the pandemic ends.”

The post Interest in studying in Germany grows as Covid-19 response praised appeared first on The PIE News.

The impact will be dependent on what you do now

The PIE News - ven, 04/24/2020 - 03:22

There has been so much written about the impact of COVID-19 on the university sector, much of it focusing on a reductive view of a post-pandemic world. The narrative is focused on domestic students not returning, international students staying away and black holes in university finances.

I have no doubt that all of these predictions will materialise across all institutions to a greater or lesser degree.

The impact will be dependent on what you do now.   

UUK and the sector more broadly have been lobbying government to ensure that these difficulties are acknowledged and that some sort of short-term arrangements are put in place to support the integrity of the HE system.

I have worked in the sector for almost 20 years and one might think that this is just the latest in a series of perfect storms that have buffeted universities in their long history.  But this storm is different and is wreaking havoc on all of our assumptions and preconceptions – from student behaviour to the economic outlook, the world we are preparing our students for and the research we do.

There will be winners and losers but to just focus on the negative misses the opportunities that the current crisis could present and limits university responses to the crisis, creating an even greater challenge from which many may not survive.

“The risk of paralysis through endless analysis and a lack of decision making will exacerbate the situation”

With so much uncertainty, the risk of paralysis through endless analysis and a lack of decision making will exacerbate the situation.  Universities now need to act on three fronts to keep moving forward and prepare for a range of eventualities which we can start to visualise.

Front 1 – Resilience and crisis management.

In March and early April, the focus was rightly on resilience and crisis management – moving students and staff to remote working, securing buildings and everything that entailed. One of the biggest shifts has been the mass move to online.  This has happened at pace and the platform market is one of only a few sectors continuing to enjoy growth.

Most of the university leaders I have spoken to in the last few weeks have been delighted and somewhat surprised at the speed at which they have been able to move operations off campus and online and how they have supported staff and students in the transition. They also recognise that many of the solutions are fine for now but will not be sustainable in the longer term.

Just like the shift from chalkboard to smartboard, the move from lecture theatre to Zoom has been equally underwhelming and not matched with new approaches that use the full potential of the available technology. PowerPoint slides and recorded lectures do not create a great student experience. 

“What happens outside the lecture theatre is as important to students as the lectures themselves”

For students, the decision to attend a campus-based university is absolutely about the courses they will study and the brand and reputation of the institution. It is also about the freedom to be themselves, the sense of community and the engagement that going to university offers.  What happens outside the lecture theatre is as important to students as the lectures themselves.

Front 2 – Business as (Un)usual.

You will want to work with your COVID Response teams and your staff and students to understand and build on what has worked well and what is not sustainable for the longer term.

Are your systems and processes robust enough to function if the recovery takes longer or changes the size and shape of your organisation?  What are the implications for staff and students (and the institution) who have discovered that they can do their job and learn remotely?   

The two big priorities over the next six months will be graduating current students and attracting and securing students for the new academic year.

What do you need to do now to maximise your intake in a world where travel is restricted, the economy and public finances in disarray and confidence significantly reduced?  How do you demonstrate to students, carers and parents that such a significant investment in your university at this time is a good choice and will deliver a great experience and value for money?

Front 3 – Embracing the new reality

The world will never be the same again and the current crisis will impact the sector for at least the next three academic years.  I also believe it will lead to permanent change.  This means every strategy in place will need to be revisited.

This creates the opportunity to think differently. Competitive advantage and exceptional leadership are critical for organisations to weather storms and come through successfully. This means having the confidence and foresight to act decisively and embrace new situations rather than hoping that everything will return to normal and work out.

“Think about every aspect of your offer.. the courses your offer and the markets you target”

When I speak with universities about their goals and aspirations, the response is consistent.  They want to have the very best student experience; they want to play a key role in their communities, and they want to attract great researchers and extend knowledge and knowhow.

This doesn’t change as a result of COVID-19 but the environment does – your competitive landscape, where and how you play, the way you organise yourself to win and how long it might take will all now be different.

Think about every aspect of your delivery, from professional and support services to research, the academic offer, the student experience, the courses your offer and the markets you target.

COVID-19 shouldn’t undermine the role of universities but enhance it. The digital demon is truly out of the box and will be hard to put back. Embrace it and make it work for you, your students, your communities and the economy.

Julie Mercer is a partner at Cairneagle Associates, a strategy and management consultancy. Prior to this, Julie worked for the NAO for 10 years followed by 22 years at Deloitte where she led UK and Global education practices. She has over 30 years’ experience in advising on strategy, policy reform and operational restructuring; Julie now leads Cairneagle’s Higher Education practice.

The post The impact will be dependent on what you do now appeared first on The PIE News.

“The dream continues” says Brazilian sector

The PIE News - ven, 04/24/2020 - 02:29

“O’sonho continua” – the dream continues – is the message international education professionals have sought to spread to Portuguese-speaking students and partners via an online video.

Featuring a group of Brazilian marketing and business managers from across the sector, the project was created out of a desire to send a positive message that could “touch people’s hearts in a time of change”, according to Carlos Eduardo Martins, business development manager at Berlitz Manchester.

“We felt that something needed to be done in order to support and bring hope and a positive message to everyone”

It also wanted to “bring solidarity, unity and hope” while the coronavirus continues to disrupt international study plans.

In a joint statement, Priscila Campos from BROWNS English, Connect International School’s Roberto Bihari, Tatiana Cavarsam from Good Hope Studies and Martins said the industry needed a positive message.

“The idea behind the video was to unite and support every human being, especially those from the international education industry,” they said.

“We felt that many people from our market were stressed out, with a lot of worries and concerns. So, we felt that something needed to be done in order to support, bringing hope and positive message to everyone.”

The group idea came when the friends were discussing how important it is to remain positive in difficult times.

“This situation demands positive minds, positive hearts, a lot of solidarity, so we can pass through this faster and stronger,” they explained.

“Despite the postponement of some projects, others will be created. Everything is cyclical, and this cycle will also end, and let us be ready to live our dreams with even more intensity,” participants said in the video.

“We know it is going to be a rough time for agents, schools, and students, especially the ones that had planned their programs in the short term, but this is something transient, and we really believe once all this situation has come to an end, we will be here strong as usual. Providing support as we always did, providing training, attending fairs,” the group added.

The video has had many thousands of likes and shares, the group added, and has “influenced not only other marketing manager groups in Mexico, Colombia, Australia and Russia, as well as agents, that started to create their all positive message videos to their student”.

“We truly believe that it gave extra motivation to everyone to hold tight during the storm, as well as, many students are understanding the importance at this stage to postpone and not to cancel.

“As we say on the video, it is a cycle that will be over soon, and as some dreams are being postponed, new ones as being created during this time, so the dream must go on.”

The full list of participants:

1 – Carlos Eduardo Martins – Berlitz Manchester & Dublin / Choices International

2 – Eduardo Novik / Envirotech Education

3 – Flávia Aguiar / ILSC Education Group (ILSC Language Schools and Greystone College)

4 – Anderson Pacheco e Mariana Carone / Southern Lakes English College – SLEC & Southern Institute of Technology – SIT

5 – Tatiana “Tati” Cavarsam / Good Hope Studies

6 – Priscila Campos/ Browns

7 – Diogo Scherer/ International House Sydney city, Bondi, Darwing, Melbourne & ihBC

8 – Camila Viana / St. George International College

9 – Roberto “Beto” Bihari – Connect International School

10 – Murilo Fernandes – GISMA Business School

11 – Antonio Pessoa Junior – SSLC, SSC & VICCC

12 – Pablo Pereira – Edvisor

13 – João Paulo Campos – Expanish / France Langue

14 – Vitor Alvarino – UMC (Upper Madison College)

15 – Erica Pereira – LAL Language Centres

16 – Camilian Branco – Global Village

17 – Fabio Carola – Humber College

18 – Tatiana Menitti – ILAC

19 – Francielly Gnoatto – Entrepreneur Education & Imagine Education Australia

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Fire Tech offers free classes in Oman and UK

The PIE News - ven, 04/24/2020 - 00:47

Fire Tech, which offers technology-focused courses for children and teenagers on subjects like coding, robotics and even Minecraft, is offering 15,000 students in Oman and 5,000 students in the UK free Python lessons in both Arabic and English.

The 25-hour curriculum includes instruction on flying simulated drones, creating chatbots, designing smart cities and coding video games.

“This has been an opportunity for us to expand”

“We started working with Oman in 2018 as an academic partner to the National Youth Programme for Skills Development,” explained Fire Teach CEO, Jill Hodges.

“At that time we ran a very prestigious residential to teach digital communications, hardware, design and coding to 200 students.  They wanted to run something new for 2020 and we agreed on an online Python Programming learning experience for 15,000 of their students.”

Like many others in the space, Fire Tech has shifted to purely online learning over and in the last three weeks alone taught over 500 online classes.

Hodges said she is encouraging agents to partner with more online schools as a way of helping to weather the havoc coronavirus is wreaking on the sector.

Tensions between agents, students and language schools regarding refunds for in-person classes that are now being delivered online is ongoing.

“We’ve gotten great feedback from parents, who need some structure so they can work, and kids, who love seeing online education that’s engaging and fun,”  Hodges continued.

“This has been an opportunity for us to expand and make our courses available to more people both geographically and financially.  We’d been testing some initiatives to use blended learning to create some lower price point courses and the current environment was a very strong catalyst to accelerate that.

“We are working with groups from around Europe, plus India and Asia to set up times and in some cases custom groups that work for them.”

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Colleges lay groundwork for fall, with or without pandemic

Inside Higher Ed - ven, 04/24/2020 - 00:00

The talk around what college is going to look like in the fall is still, for now, just talk. The difficult calls have not been made, those hard-to-send emails have not been sent. The question of whether campuses will be closed to students is still in many ways an open one.

But every day the picture gets clearer. Some universities, if they have not made firm decisions, have indicated where they're leaning.

Two universities in the California State University system, San José State and Cal State Fullerton, have been open about considering and planning for a fall semester online. Though officials at those colleges have emphasized that nothing is set in stone, they are getting everything in order for a possible virtual semester.

The opposite is true at some other universities, which have said that they are preparing for a semester on campus. Purdue University president Mitch Daniels sent a letter to the university's constituents this week explaining that the administration is looking at separating people by age and vulnerability and limiting class sizes in the fall.

He did not mention the possibility of a fully online semester and said that the virus poses a near "zero lethal threat" to the under-35 age group, which makes up 80 percent of the student body.

William Jewell College in Missouri similarly announced that the administration is planning for an on-campus semester.

One reason for the differences in messaging might be location. Fullerton and San José are in some of the most populous metropolitan areas in the country. West Lafayette, Ind., and Liberty, Mo., are much less dense.

Chuck Staben, former president of the University of Idaho, said that institutions like Purdue and his own may be more likely to emphasize a face-to-face start.

"A residential campus like the University of Idaho that's in a fairly isolated location depends so much on really bringing students to that location," he said. "They're going to try very hard to have a face-to-face semester."

Staben noted that public and private colleges may also have different pressures.

"Private institutions, of course, aside from maybe the very top ones, are extremely tuition dependent. I think they will be under a lot of pressure to have face-to-face classes rather than online classes, because I think we're seeing student dissatisfaction with paying normal tuition for online classes," he said. "The higher the tuition, probably the greater that level of dissatisfaction."

Some in higher ed have suggested that there are many potential scenarios for the fall. Joshua Kim and Edward Maloney, teaching and learning specialists at Dartmouth College and Georgetown University, respectively, explored 15 of them in a blog post for Inside Higher Ed this week. Their list included a hybrid semester, a delayed start (like Macalester College has considered) or a block plan (which Beloit College and Centre College have already announced).

A survey from the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers suggested that 16 to 21 percent of institutions are considering a delayed start to the semester. Earlier this month, Georgetown told its continuing M.B.A. students that their semester would be pushed back two weeks, from Aug. 26 to Sept. 14.

Kim and Maloney noted that some universities may consider not holding the fall semester at all and reopening in 2021, as Stanford University has openly considered. At other universities, such as Cleveland State University, officials have said that is not on the table.

Staben said that a complete fall closure won't be possible for most universities with tenure-track faculty members who need to be paid.

"It's extremely difficult to even think about 15 different scenarios," he said. "My thinking as a former president would be you need to think of two or three scenarios that seem reasonably likely and perhaps try to plan for those."

Harvey Kesselman, president of Stockton University, in New Jersey, echoed that thinking. He said the college is really only considering an online semester, a completely normal semester or an in-person semester with some adjustments.

Kesselman emphasized that there is only so much planning that can occur internally.

"If [the governor of New Jersey] were to say, 'No, we're going to continue students learning remotely,' it really wouldn't matter what we said."

The urban-rural division that Staben contemplated isn't the only one that could unfold. With governors sometimes taking radically different approaches to the virus response, it's possible that the politics of a state could affect its opening. Southern states with Republican governors, such as Georgia, have been pursuing aggressive reopening plans in the hopes of limiting economic damage.

Pressure to Make a Decision

While colleges still have four months until the traditional start to the semester, and most have indicated that they are comfortable waiting, there is some pressure from incoming and prospective students to make a firm decision soon.

Low yields and declining rates at which students are completing the federal financial aid application indicate that many students may be rethinking their college decisions or sitting on the fence. Loss of income may mean a decreased ability to pay for college. For the more fortunate, the possibility of a virtual semester may mean not getting the college experience they envisioned.

Of course, all this could spell disaster for colleges, which have forecast catastrophic losses and responded with hiring freezes and pay cuts. The University of Arizona, which has said it is planning on a return to campus, said it's expecting to lose $250 million from the pandemic.

Staben said the University of Idaho is similarly seeing a decline in admissions yield. Those institutions that are telegraphing a decision, he said, may be trying to lessen uncertainty for students so they'll commit.

Faculty needs may also play into when a decision is made. The more notice instructors have, the better they can prepare their classes to go virtual. Some faculty union contracts may have stipulations about summer work.

Gregory Chris Brown, president of the California Faculty Association union chapter at Fullerton, said the union would like to be part of the decision making for fall, but currently is not.

"CFA's position is [faculty] should be compensated for the extra work that they're taking on changing modalities," he said.

San José State has said it plans to use the summer to train up to 500 faculty in online and hybrid teaching.

A Normal Semester, With Some Adjustments

"There is absolutely no tabletop exercise that can prepare an institution for this," said Kesselman, the Stockton president.

With an unprecedented catastrophe, decision makers are looking at some unprecedented changes.

Kesselman said that Stockton, which normally has 3,500 students living on campus, is making contingency plans in case the university is unable to house all of them due to social distancing. At the university's Atlantic City campus, that might include putting students up in empty casino or resort housing.

William Jewell College has said that all students will be able to receive a private residence upon request.

Other general possibilities include fall sports taking place without spectators or being canceled altogether.

Separating age groups or having the vulnerable work from home might involve classrooms full of students but with a lecturer teaching virtually.

Daniels at Purdue raised the possibility in his letter of testing students before arrival for infections and antibodies.

Bryan Alexander, a senior researcher at Georgetown University, said one scenario might include a "toggle" semester, where leaders need to be prepared to switch from in-person to online quickly as virus cases ebb and flow.

"Then campuses have to be ready to go both ways," he said.

The semester ahead will no doubt be rocky. The only thing to do is plan, though whether those plans will look anything like reality remains to be seen.

"Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth," said Staben, referencing a famous Mike Tyson quote.

"We've been hit in the mouth."

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Financial crisis related to coronavirus hits athletic departments

Inside Higher Ed - ven, 04/24/2020 - 00:00

Ali Wahab learned on a Zoom call that he would no longer be a wrestler for Old Dominion University.

None of the 32 students in the program would be, either, his coaches said during the hastily arranged virtual meeting earlier this month when they announced the bad news. The university is eliminating the wrestling program, and the decision was made in part because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Regardless of understanding the circumstances or not, we thought that we were untouchable to getting cut because we’re some of the most consistent with our winning,” said Wahab, a senior who would have competed in his final year during the 2020-21 academic year. “I’m feeling angry about how they decided to cut wrestling and trying to hold myself back from saying something I shouldn’t every time someone talks about it.”

He said a “wound is still open” from the cut, which in the end will save the university around $1 million in expenses, a statement published by the university’s athletic department said. Current and incoming wrestlers with athletic scholarships such as Wahab will have them for an additional year, which he said is the least the university can do.

Old Dominion wrestling and the University of Cincinnati men’s soccer program are the early victims of what are likely to be more sports program cuts as the coronavirus pandemic wreaks havoc on the budgets of universities across the country. More “nonrevenue” athletic programs such as these, which have high operating costs and typically do not bring in any funds for athletic departments, could be on the chopping block as institutions assess the financial damage in the coming weeks and months.

Athletic departments are starting to have tough conversations about where cuts need to be made, said Sam Perelman, a second-year graduate student at Old Dominion and vice chair of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Student Athlete Advisory Committee, or SAAC. A “very low number” of athletic departments were profitable before the pandemic, and the slowing economy is making it harder for them to keep all their programs, said Perelman, who was speaking personally and not for the SAAC.

“You hate to see it,” said Perelman, who played his final year of tennis for Old Dominion last year. “There is such a financial strain at this point. Not just at ODU, but across the country.”

Perelman said most college athletes would hope that all other options are exhausted before programs are cut. But as commissioners of the NCAA's various Division I conferences consider the financial health of their member institutions, they are asking the association to temporarily reduce the number of sports each college is required to sponsor. This puts nonrevenue programs such as volleyball, wrestling, soccer and swimming and diving at risk of “extinction,” said Kathy DeBoer, executive director of the American Volleyball Coaches Association.

DeBoer and other leaders in the Intercollegiate Coach Association Coalition, or ICAC, oppose the proposal to waive the sport sponsorship requirement, which they see as a move to allow for the permanent dropping of certain sports, she said. College coaches' associations are discussing ways expenses can be reduced, but DeBoer called the suggestion that institutions should sponsor fewer sports “lethal and cruel and toxic.”

“Sports can recover from schedule changes and reductions. Sports can recover from staffing reductions and even scholarship reductions,” DeBoer said. “We can recover from anything but extinction. You don’t recover from extinction.”

Craig Thompson, commissioner for the Mountain West Conference, which is part of the Group of Five, "has been clear it’s not about cutting sports," Javan Hedlund, a spokesperson for the conference, said in an email. Hedlund noted that Thompson has repeatedly emphasized that he favors reductions in travel and the number of competitions held rather than elimination of programs. Thompson was not available for an interview.

The 130 institutions in Division I that are part of the Football Bowl Subdivision, or FBS, in which the top football teams in the country compete, are required to sponsor at least 16 athletics programs including football, according to the NCAA’s bylaws. A minimum of six of these teams must be men's or mixed gender, and at least eight must be all-female programs, the bylaws say. There are a number of other requirements for institutions to be part of the FBS, such as minimums for financial aid awards granted to athletes and the number of contests scheduled.

All these requirements come at a cost to institutions, and commissioners of the Group of Five conferences, which represent 63 midmajor universities, sent a letter to NCAA president Mark Emmert to ask for a four-year waiver, given the current financial state of higher education. The waiver would provide college officials with “the ability to make prudent and necessary decisions for the financial well-being of the institution” while maintaining the colleges' status as FBS members, said the April 9 letter to Emmert signed by the five commissioners. Commissioners for the remaining 22 Division I conferences, outside the Power Five, have joined this request as well, ESPN reported.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and resultant economic turmoil has resulted in the direst financial crisis for higher education since at least the Great Depression,” the letter said. “Providing short-term relief from a handful of regulatory requirements will facilitate the opportunity for institutions to retrench and rebuild the financial structures of the institution.”

Large decreases in enrollment, state appropriations, philanthropy and endowment value are having a negative impact on colleges' bottom line, the commissioners explained. Division I institutions also saw a $375 million cut to their NCAA revenue distributions as a result of the cancellation of the March Madness men’s basketball tournament, and uncertainty surrounds the 2020-21 college football season.

The letter to Emmert also raises questions about institutions’ compliance with Title IX, the law prohibiting sex discrimination at federally funded colleges, which requires an “equal opportunity” for both men and women to participate in sports and receive scholarships. No conference or institution is likely to ask for Title IX compliance waivers, and they shouldn’t, said Amy Perko, CEO of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics. Institutions with football programs would be left with “narrow” choices on which sports to cut, and nonrevenue men’s sports would specifically be at risk should NCAA leadership accept the commissioners’ request, she said.

DeBoer said it’s “shortsighted” to consider eliminating opportunities for college athletes who receive much fewer scholarships because they play non-revenue-generating sports. These athletes pay tuition and fees, she said.

“This is a time when higher education is losing enrollment,” DeBoer said. “We all know that athletics is one of the drivers to enrollment in higher education. It drives kids to college that wouldn’t normally go to college.”

The pandemic is a time of reckoning for Division I athletic departments, which have historically poured revenue into creating powerhouse facilities and programs but failed to save funds and prepare for a “blip in their system,” said Nick Schlereth, a recreation and sport management professor at Coastal Carolina University who studies collegiate athletics' cash flow. Departments are incentivized to build winning teams, not reserves, and if they overspend, they are typically covered by other university funds, he said.

“This is all the product of not being great stewards of the budget,” Schlereth said. “There’s been a lot of overspending. The times have always been good, and we haven’t thought about it.”

Less than half of athletic directors at institutions with the nation’s top Division I football teams have financial reserves for crises like the current pandemic, according to a recent survey of 100 directors conducted by the LEAD1 Association, which represents the 130 athletic directors in the FBS, and Teamworks, an athlete engagement platform. Forty-one percent of institutions in the Power Five conferences, which are made up of more than 50 large public universities, reported they have financial reserves, while just 26 percent of the Group of Five said they have funds saved.

Institutions in the Group of Five conferences rely much more on student fees and financial support from their universities, according to 2018 athletics budget data collected by the Knight Commission. As universities are beginning to announce revenue losses, hiring freezes and drops in enrollment, Group of Five athletics departments may become financially unstable, Schlereth said.

The Power Five, which includes the Atlantic Coast Conference, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and Southeastern Conference, collects almost all of its revenue from media-rights contracts for sports broadcasting, postseason football appearances, ticket sales and donors, Knight Commission data show. These universities and their highly competitive and profitable football programs are holding on to hope that the 2020-21 season will be played in some form or fashion. If not, $4.1 billion, an average of $78 million per institution, will be at risk, according to a USA Today Sports analysis of Power Five financial reports.

Perko said instead of asking individual athletic departments to make cuts, NCAA leaders should be discussing options to reduce operation costs broadly, particularly the nonrevenue sports, which rely largely on lucrative football and sometimes basketball programs. Discussions about restructuring current conferences “may seem like a radical suggestion,” but making them more regionally based, for example, could reduce the cost of athletes’ travel, Perko said.

“There’s already lots of conversations happening even among the conferences that have the most resources about how to offer some sports competitions in this coming year that are different from their traditional structure, to reduce cost, but also taking into account the crisis we’re dealing with,” Perko said.

The Division I Council, a 40-member legislative body of intercollegiate athletics officials and student athlete representatives, will meet twice at the end of this week to discuss any national solutions before the NCAA Board of Directors meets on April 28. It’s the time to "be creative and maybe even wave in new era of college athletics," said Perelman, who sits on the council.

“Every athletic department is a little bit different, but things are going to have to change,” Perelman said. “That’s the fact of the matter, at least for the short term.”

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Congress allocates more than $1 billion in stimulus funds for struggling minority-serving institutions

Inside Higher Ed - ven, 04/24/2020 - 00:00

Presidents of colleges and universities that primarily serve black students heaved a collective sigh of relief when they learned their institutions would be getting a special allocation as part of the stimulus package approved by Congress last month.

That's because, in addition to the $12.2 billion coronavirus-related stimulus funding that went to higher education institutions, the legislation allocates approximately $1.05 billion in emergency aid to historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs), tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) and other minority-serving institutions (MSIs). Just over half of the funding will go to HBCUs, and for many of the 101 eligible institutions, the money can't come soon enough.

Most of these institutions -- relatively small, underresourced and highly dependent on revenue from student enrollment -- operate on very tight budgets and were already struggling financially before the pandemic. Many, but not all, were pushed precariously close to the edge of economic ruin by the public health crisis.

The colleges and their students lacked the technological infrastructure to easily move from in-person to remote instruction after evacuating their campuses and had to hustle to purchase new laptops, distance learning platforms and other technology. They also had to upgrade their internet capabilities and quickly train faculty and staff to teach and work fully online. The spending meant expenditures for which most of the colleges had not budgeted and could not afford.

“They were under duress,” said Lodriguez V. Murray, senior vice president for public policy and government affairs at the United Negro College Fund, which provides general scholarship funds for 37 private HBCUs. “Emergency spending always costs more than planned spending.”

Some of the colleges also refunded students for unused housing and meal plan fees. Others simply could not afford to -- and did not.

Murray said a president of an HBCU he declined to name approached him last month just before many of the institutions announced extended spring breaks and campus closures and told him the college was on the brink of financial ruin.

“If we don’t get help, we expect coronavirus to put us into the red by $2 million to $4 million by the end of the fiscal year,” Murray said the president told him. “This is an institution that does not have $2 to $4 million to give.”

While colleges of all types across the country are dealing with budgetary challenges, for HBCUs these new spending obligations can exacerbate their long-term financial standing and threaten their future viability. HBCU presidents are worried their institutions will be penalized by accreditors for having insufficient operating funds and placed on probation or stripped of accreditation outright, which Murray noted would then make the institutions ineligible for federal aid.

Harry L. Williams, president and CEO of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, which represents and supports public HBCUs and predominantly black institutions (PBIs), also heard from several presidents who told him that housing and meal plan refunds cost their individual institutions amounts ranging from $8 to $9 million.

Students that attend HBCUs also faced challenges -- some 75 percent of them are from low- to moderate-income families and qualify for federal financial aid. Some returned home to communities where broadband access is limited or unavailable and would have difficulty accessing classes and other instruction online. The colleges had to provide these students the right technology to access instruction remotely. Other students could not afford the transportation costs to return home.

Students lost jobs, as did their family members, as businesses closed to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Others still had no homes to which to return. The colleges either paid those travel costs or paid for temporary housing for students.

“We’re hoping the campus will be able to recoup those dollars paid, which played a critical role in their cash flow,” Williams said.

His organization and the UNCF led the effort to lobby members of Congress to help the cash-strapped institutions. The organizations, along with the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education, the umbrella organization of HBCUs and PBIs, jointly wrote to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos requesting flexibility in the rules stipulating how the money can be spent, to allow the universities to use some of the funds to reimburse themselves for the expenditures and recover their emergency outlays.

“This additional flexibility will allow schools to put previously restricted funds directly to use in addressing the new challenges that our schools and their students face during the ongoing health emergency,” Williams said.

The Department of Education has not yet responded. Williams noted that the new law allows the Education Department to loosen the spending restrictions on the other CARES Act funds that have already been appropriated to higher ed institutions.

Bipartisanship in Uncertain Times

Williams said the political significance of the special funding was not lost on HBCU administrators.

“This is unprecedented in terms of these dollars,” he said, “and we’re living in unprecedented times.”

He credited U.S. Representative Alma Adams, a North Carolina Democrat, founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan HBCU Caucus, for getting the ball rolling on the effort to get Congress to allocate the special funding, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, for building support among lawmakers.

“The critical thing to note is that not only Democrats supported it but Republicans, too, people from the red states where some of our schools are located,” Williams said. “It sent a very strong message. That type of collaboration has been very crucial to helping our schools.”

Looking Ahead

Many of the HBCUS are still providing students and faculty with the tools and support they need to make distant learning systems effective and keep students on track academically. The stimulus funds will help these institutions continue building capacity as they continue adjusting and adapting to the current teaching and learning environment and adopt new models for getting the job done.

North Carolina A&T University, an HBCU that is part of the University of North Carolina system, is in a good position to do just that, said Harold L. Martin Sr., chancellor of the university.

Although the university reimbursed students $8 million in housing and meal plan fees, it did not break the bank.

"Fortunately, we had the funds available and were able to reimburse our students appropriately," Martin said. But the university will now put off planned renovations to housing and dinning facilities on campus. And while housing, dining and custodial staff will continue to be paid until the end of the year, he said there will be a modest number of layoffs afterward.

"We're fortunately a university that’s been growing for the past six to seven years," he said. "We have been very effective in being strategic in how we invest those dollars. But as we move into summer and next fall, we may see fewer dollars through our state legislature to fund operations and activities. We may experience potential budget cuts and are making provisions for that."

What's more, if the pandemic continues and students are still taking classes remotely next fall, the university will be unable to charge or collect the same tuition and fees as it did in prior years.

"That will have a negative impact on the university and will result in a revenue shortfall," he said. "We’re managing through various possible scenarios."

Williams, of the Thurgood Marshall fund, said his organization is having discussions with member institutions about "different scenario planning" depending on what fall enrollment looks like.

"I would assume that social distancing continues in the fall and changes the dynamic of what campuses look like," he said, adding that students will be expecting different tuition and fee rates if they're not on campus. "That’s the reality of where we are, and those adjustments are going to have to be made."

He said state funding for higher education will loom large in any scenario and the ramifications of the pandemic on state budgets are already becoming apparent.

In Missouri, home to two HBCUs -- Lincoln University, a public, land-grant institution, and Harris-Stowe State University, which is also a public institution -- funding for higher education will be significantly reduced under a $180 million spending freeze announced earlier this month, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. The plan would restrict $61.3 million from four-year institutions and $11.6 million from community colleges, $81.6 million in all from the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development, the Dispatch reported.

For Lincoln the freeze meant a $1.4 million budget cut.

"At the end of the day, there are going to be even more challenges because we don’t have the luxury of large endowments to keep our schools going," Williams said. "So states maintaining their level of support is also critical."

Perhaps the current reality explains why presidents and chancellors of the 19 land-grant HBCUs have asked Congress to expand federal Pell Grants for low-income students and "to fund nearly $1.5 billion in healthcare-related degree programs and technological upgrades at the schools as a stabilizing investment in pandemic recovery throughout the south," according to HBCU Digest.

The institutions understand that keeping students engaged and enrolled is tied as much to the livelihoods of the colleges as it is to that of their students.

"The more students we keep in school, the more students we help graduate, and the more students we move into the middle class," Williams said.

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April 24 roundup: Hesitant parents, beauty schools and the Grim Reaper

Inside Higher Ed - ven, 04/24/2020 - 00:00

We made it through another week!

Colleges are starting to make plans for the fall, states are starting to prepare for opening up and scientists are urgently yelling that this is not the end of the pandemic.

While the world is still a weird place right now, and will probably remain so for the foreseeable future, we can still relax with some palate cleansers.

Before we get to the fun stuff, a little bit of shameless self-promotion. I participated in a Future Trends Forum with Bryan Alexander and Michelle Pacansky-Brock about equity and the pandemic. If you want to check it out, you can find the video, and past videos, here.

Fun stuff! Yesterday was bring-your-kid-to-work day, apparently. That's kind of every day now, so here's an old video of The Washington Post interviewing journalists' kids.

A Florida man has vowed to roam the Sunshine State's beaches dressed as the Grim Reaper to keep people at bay if the stay-at-home order lifts on May 1.

Bored at home with some gaming equipment? The State University of New York is hosting an esports competition that will aid educational relief efforts.

Be sure to check out Monday's roundup, which will feature another special Q&A. Next week's interview focuses on tribal colleges and students.

Let’s get to the news.

Regional accrediting agencies are asking the Education Department to extend its March guidance that allowed accreditors to waive distance education review requirements.

A survey found that parents are hesitant about sending their kids to college in the fall if the semester will be all online.

William Jewell, a private liberal arts college in Missouri, is possibly the first college to say it intends to reopen in the fall.

The University of Maine system is offering in-state tuition prices to out-of-state students affected by coronavirus-related college closures. The catch? You must be "successful" -- but there's no clear guidelines on what that means.

Dozens of major scientific organizations signed a letter supporting proposed resolutions in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate that denounce anti-Asian racism related to COVID-19.

Here’s a quick roundup of our latest stories, in case you’ve fallen a bit behind (we don’t blame you):

A lot happened yesterday. Perhaps the biggest news was elite institutions refunding, or refusing, federal stimulus money after being called out by President Trump and the education secretary. Doug Lederman has the details.

Kery Murakami wrote about beauty schools, which won a lot of funding from the CARES Act -- and thus ire from advocates who oppose for-profits.

I wrote about who was disadvantaged by the formula. Hint: the colleges that serve the most vulnerable student populations.

Colleen Flaherty has a story on how faculty are approaching grading and flexibility right now.

People of color are being disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic, and many believe they would need more education to get back in the workforce, Emma Whitford reports.

News From Elsewhere

The gloves are off for admissions offices, which are pumping out deals to get students to enroll, The Hechinger Report writes.

Education Dive has a story on how career services offices are making the switch to digital.

Not all college students will get housing refunds. Those who are renting apartments from private landlords are stuck with the tab, even if they returned home to their parents, The Detroit Free Press reports.

Percolating Thoughts

This is a time when everyone has an opinion. As journalists, we try not to have opinions, but we've gathered some interesting ones from others.

Robert Kelchen wrote about what the coronavirus could mean for higher education on his blog.

Colleges should focus on improving the transfer experience, as students are likely to choose to stay closer to home and save money next year, according to the president of College Transfer Solutions LLC.

Emergency savings funds are part of financial literacy 101. But how long would it take Americans to actually save enough to cover one month of expenses? The answer, two opinion writers at The New York Times say, depends on how rich you are.

Have any percolating thoughts or notice any from others? Feel free to send them our way or comment below.

We’ll continue bringing you the news you need in this crazy time. Keep sending us your questions and story ideas. We’ll get through this together.

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In Germany, humanities scholars join discussions on ending lockdown

Inside Higher Ed - ven, 04/24/2020 - 00:00

In the struggle against the new coronavirus, humanities academics have entered the fray -- in Germany, at least.

Arguably to a greater extent than has happened in Britain, France or the U.S., the country has enlisted the advice of philosophers, historians of science, theologians and jurists as it navigates the delicate ethical balancing act of reopening society while safeguarding the health of the public.

When the German federal government announced a slight loosening of restrictions on April 15 -- allowing small shops to open and some children to return to school in May -- it had been eagerly awaiting a report written by a 26-strong expert group containing only a minority of natural scientists and barely a handful of virologists and medical specialists.

Instead, this working group from the Leopoldina -- Germany’s independent National Academy of Sciences, which dates back to 1652 -- included historians of industrialization and early Christianity, a specialist on the philosophy of law, and several pedagogical experts.

This paucity of virologists earned the group a swipe from Markus Söder, minister-president of badly hit Bavaria, who has led calls in Germany for a tough lockdown (although earlier in the pandemic, the Leopoldina did release a report written by more medically focused specialists).

But “the crisis is a complex one, it’s a systemic crisis” and so it needs to be dissected from every angle, argued Jürgen Renn, director of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, and one of those who wrote the crucial recommendations.

Working together at an “incredibly quick” pace via Zoom, the group’s education specialists raised fears that school closures meant that children from poor families would fall further behind their wealthy peers, jurists wondered if restrictions on basic freedoms were legitimate and ethicists and philosophers stressed that stopping the spread of the coronavirus would depend far more on public willingness to fall in line with moral norms than any coercive state action, he explained.

And Renn -- who earlier this year published a book on rethinking science in the Anthropocene -- made the argument for green post-virus reconstruction. Urbanization and deforestation have squashed mankind and wildlife together, making other animal-to-human disease transmissions ever more likely, he argued. “It’s not the only virus waiting out there,” he said.

Germany’s Ethics Council -- which traces its roots back to the stem cell debates of the early 2000s and is composed of theologians, jurists, philosophers and other ethical thinkers -- also contributed to a report at the end of March, warning that it was up to elected politicians, not scientists, to make the “painful decisions” weighing up the lockdown’s affect on health and its other side effects.

“We have a direct line to the ministers and decision makers in Parliament,” said Joachim Vetter, the council’s director. “You can ask the virologists in the beginning, but as you go on, you need jurists, people from the economy, social scientists,” he argued, as the impact of lockdown ripples through society.

Other European countries also have bioethics councils -- some of which have issued their own recommendations on the coronavirus -- but Vetter argued that Germany had a particularly strong tradition of ethical debate. After the release of its report, the chair of the council appeared on a primetime evening news program. “You’re really in the main news,” he said.

The government of North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state, has also called on an eclectic mix of experts for advice. Otfried Höffe, a world authority on Immanuel Kant, has sat down with telecoms executives, business representatives and legal experts to chart a lockdown-exit strategy.

His role during the meetings was to ask “difficult questions” that might otherwise be overlooked, and in this, Höffe said, philosophy’s “rather good experience of 2,500 years” was an asset.

For example, there is a “danger” that the executive of a government might seek to hoard power during the pandemic, he explained.

While France has a tradition of public intellectuals, Höffe said, in Germany, academic philosophers have a stronger history of involvement in political discussion.

Germany’s involvement of the humanities in its coronavirus response appears to be the exception rather than the rule. In France, an 11-person-strong coronavirus scientific council assembled by the country’s president, Emmanuel Macron, at the end of March is composed almost entirely of disease experts, epidemiologists, disease modelers and medics -- it features only a single sociologist and one anthropologist.

The British government has controversially kept the identities of experts on most of its coronavirus advisory committees secret (the Department of Health and Social Care did not respond to a Times Higher Education request for information).

According to the Institute for Government think tank, during pandemics, the British government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies draws on “epidemiologists, virologists, clinicians, behavioral scientists, systems scientists and engineers,” although one advisory subcommittee that looks at how people behave in times of crisis can involve historians.

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