Philadelphia Fed webinar focuses on financial impact and challenges of COVID-19 on higher education institutions
Last year, campus-wide closures resulted in the financial reimbursement of student and employee leaves at higher education institutions across the country.
To provide support, the federal government has passed several relief programs, including the CARES Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act and the US Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
But even if colleges and universities plan to reopen their campuses for in-person learning, the economic effects of COVID-19 will continue to linger.
Over the next five years, revenue loss is expected to reach between $ 70 billion and $ 115 billion, with 80% of institutions affected. Public colleges, historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and institutions with fewer than 1,000 students are expected to be the hardest hit, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
“As we emerge from this pandemic, I want to call on the federal and state governments – and American society – to reaffirm their commitment to public post-secondary education, which remains the indispensable tool for economic and social mobility and for education. ‘educating our citizens,’ said Dr Patrick. T. Harker, president and CEO of the Philadelphia Fed and former president of the University of Delaware. “Higher education is an industry. But it is also a public good.
To better understand the economic and global impact of the pandemic, the Philadelphia Fed hosted a virtual webinar on Wednesday called “Symposium on Institutions of Higher Education: Financial Viability and COVID-19.”
As the transition to online learning has created cost benefits for colleges and universities, what has been the impact of the hub on student learning?
Dr. Michael Kofoed, assistant professor of economics at the United States Military Academy, presented his research, focusing on measuring learning differences, at the symposium. Students were randomly assigned to an in-person or online environment with the same instructor, same lesson model, same assignments, and same tests. The only difference was the “teaching modality”.
According to his findings, online students completed homework at a slower pace, which resulted in lower exam scores. Additionally, students who participated in an online course were more likely to feel isolated, less connected with their peers, had difficulty concentrating, and felt their instructors cared less about them.
“While online education can reduce costs for institutions, it also has the potential to reduce learning outcomes, especially for institutions specializing in this type of in-depth mentoring and on-campus experience. Kofoed said.
Apart from structural changes at the institutional level, COVID-19 has also exacerbated affordability and access issues.
High unemployment rates have resulted in declining college and university enrollment.
Over the next decade, 75% of jobs in New England, for example, will require some form of post-secondary education, according to Bunker Hill Community College president Dr. Pam Y. Eddinger.
“For me, this is more of an investment in labor than anything else,” she added. “Doing K-12 University didn’t break our society, it didn’t break the higher education system. So adding two more years to it won’t have the destructive effect everyone thinks of. “
Dr Jonathan Holloway, president of Rutgers University, agreed that the free community college proposal that was put forward by President Biden is a “smart investment” and that four-year institutions will adapt accordingly. However, he remains concerned about its sustainability in the event of a presidential transition or reversal in the United States House of Representatives or Senate.
“Okay, we’ve set some expectations and something’s implemented in about two years, say,” Holloway said. “And then it only lasts four years and it’s gone. Four years is better than any, but it’s just something we have to be aware of.”
With the term “community” in its name, community colleges have long served as a “hub” for providing social services and meeting basic needs such as food security and broadband access. However, with the campus closures linked to COVID-19, the infrastructure collapsed, Eddinger said.
Outside of community colleges, more higher education institutions have also assumed roles within their communities.
With a medical school and a hospital, Howard University has become a “trusted” messenger within the Washington DC community by addressing vaccine hesitancy, setting up testing centers, and scaling up access to COVID-19 vaccines.
“I still have a picture of a 103-year-old black woman being vaccinated by one of our nursing students,” said Dr. Wayne AI Frederick, President of Howard. “This is where the community feels the full cycle of the generational movement, so to speak, I think it’s important… Ultimately, the amplification of humanity is what we see ourselves doing the most. . “
Sarah Wood can be contacted at [email protected]