Is it time to replace teaching centers?

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that existing teaching centers at institutions of higher education aren’t enough to meet the demands of today’s education, according to Steven Mintz at the University of Texas at Austin. While teaching centers were created with the respectable goal to help faculty with course design, inclusive teaching, classroom technology and more, the reality of education today requires centers better capable of driving academic transformation more at the university level. According to Mintz:

“The current crises offer an opportunity to put into place the educational infrastructure designed for the 21st rather than the 20th century — one that will address systemic inequalities; facilitate data-driven, anytime, anywhere support services; and better equip students for the future of work. A center for educational innovation would assume responsibility for implementing and overseeing the strategies that campuses adopt.”

These centers, which Mintz calls “Centers for Education, Innovation, and Research”, would replace teaching centers with units charged with four responsibilities: educational enhancement, strategy, infrastructure, and evaluation and research.

With the pandemic challenging existing models of higher education, these centers are well-positions to help institutions adapt to the post-pandemic future by identifying new opportunities and challenges, driving innovation, and assessing program performance, among other benefits.

Read more about Centers for Education, Innovation and Research here.

What do college students actually spend on course materials?

Recently, this analysis from Phil Hill (of Phil on Ed Tech), an influential educational technology market analysis, highlighted the actual cost of course materials for undergraduate students in the United States:

“Last month the College Board released their “Trends in College Pricing and Student Aid 2020” report. There is a wealth of information in that report on many subjects, and on page 11 the new method of sharing budget information has a major improvement.



There is a new box in the top right now breaking out “spending on course materials” at $410 per year for both public two-year schools and four-year schools, and separate “other supplies”. Also seen at the bottom is that the College Board now points out that NACS Student Watch and the Student Monitor reports are the most reliable sources for spending estimates on course materials.

It’s also worth looking at that number: $410 per year. That is far below the ~$600 per year described in 2015, and this gets to the second significant update. Both NACS and Student Monitor have reported a consistent downward trend on how much college students in the US spend on course materials.”

Read more at PhilOnEdTech

Campus closures likely to hit low-income college students harder

As classes at colleges and universities across the United States are moved online, and as some students are being told to move out of their residence halls, the COVID-19 coronavirus is creating more uncertainty.

A commentary from CNN argues that forcing students to leave campus is likely to have a disparate effect on low-income students who may not the resources to return home or connect to online classes.

Many schools do not yet have a clear public plan for how to handle students who can’t go home: those whose homes are in affected countries, those who are low-income and rely on financial aid for their housing, those whose homes don’t offer space conducive to learning (not every home has the fast WiFi connection necessary for online classes), those who may not have a bed or place to stay in their childhood homes, and those who support themselves and don’t have homes to go back to.

Many low-income students rely on their schools for housing, food, and income—including work-study income (the only income many international students can legally make).

Some first-generation college students also support family members back home by paying bills, sending cash and otherwise sharing their resources with a network of people who all rely on one another. An unexpected change can have dire consequences for a family.

Read more at American School and University

For some colleges, missing the fall semester may be just the tip of the iceberg

“All of our formerly reliable sources of revenue — tuition, research grants, clinical revenue, private philanthropy and income from our investments and endowment — will almost certainly be significantly and adversely affected.”

With this dire pronouncement, Duke University, the wealthy private school in North Carolina, announced a total hiring, building and salary freeze for the coming year.
Dozens of other universities have done likewise, shaken not only by the current costs associated with shutting down campuses and refunding student fees, but trying to prepare for an uncertain future. Yale University has already frozen hiring until June 2021 — more than a year away — predicting that things are only going to get worse.

Covid-19 Will Lower College Enrollment, Then Boost It

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to upend American life, colleges and universities are bracing for a significant drop in student enrollment. The American Council on Education, a higher education lobby group, projects that on-campus college enrollment will fall by 15% in the fall semester, costing institutions about $23 billion in foregone revenue. That’s enough of a hit to the sector to force many college campuses to close. But schools that can remain open through the pandemic are poised to capture a surge in enrollment, once it’s safe for students to return to the classroom.

It’s almost certain that college enrollment in the coming academic year will drop. Even if the pandemic is under control to an extent that campuses can reopen by the fall, students may be reluctant to sit in crowded lecture halls while the virus remains at large. If the pandemic is still too dangerous to allow in-person learning to resume, most colleges will move instruction online. Many students will balk at the prospect of paying full tuition to learn from their computers, especially those at expensive private colleges. Either scenario promises a short-term fall in the number of students enrolled.

Read the full commentary from The Manhattan Institute – a think tank focused on the major challenges facing today’s universities, including rising costs, the lack of intellectual pluralism, and the failure to provide students with a substantive education.

The Next Financial Blow

Financial pain from the coronavirus pandemic is hitting the nation’s colleges and universities hard, and Northwest Missouri State University is no exception.

John Jasinski, president of the four-year institution, which enrolls more than 7,000 students and is located 100 miles north of Kansas City, Mo., has been dealing with serious challenges the crisis brought to the university’s budget.

Already reeling from the pandemic and recession, public colleges face severe state budget cuts in coming weeks.

Jasinski said he’s put off spending money where he can, on professional development, upgrading educational software and other areas, as the crisis brings unexpected costs such as the more than $4 million the public university is spending to refund students’ room and board fees after classes were moved online.

But two weeks ago​ — in what could be a harbinger of the pain coming soon to other universities around the country — things got even worse.

Read the full post on Inside Higher Ed

How the last recession affected higher education. Will history repeat?

To help us think through what will happen to higher education if the coronavirus pandemic results in a recession, Jill Barshay revisits how higher education fared during the Great Recession.

College enrollment tends to run counter-cyclical to the economy: when the economy contracts, more students enroll in college as the unemployed seek to gain additional skills to get a leg up. Meanwhile, state funding for higher education tends to decline as tax revenues shrink.

The result: More students with less resources.

Read more at The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education.

Distance Learning Ramp-up: A Strategic View

Excellent article and interview with Arizona State University’s EdPlus CEO Phil Regier, discussing how ASU has shifted the whole student body to online learning during its COVID-19 campus closure.

In this article, Regier discusses lessons learned by EdPlus and ASU Online over the last ten years, including both the pains and promise of online learning.

Read the full article from Campus Technology.