ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

COVID-19 and Higher Education: A Reading List

April 1, 2020 by Erik Gross

The spread of COVID-19 has upended much of daily life in America as individuals practice social distancing to slow the spread of the virus. Higher education has been particularly affected, with virtually all residential colleges closing their doors. There is a lot out there to read on higher education and COVID-19, so the staff at ACTA is saving you some time by rounding up the biggest and most important stories during the pandemic.

Week of March 30, 2020 

“Could coronavirus push more colleges to test-optional admissions?” by Jeremy Bauer-Wolf in Education Dive 

In 2019, a record 50 colleges and universities declared that they would no longer require a standardized test for admissions. And after the coronavirus pandemic caused the SAT and ACT to cancel testing dates for high school juniors this spring, experts are speculating if the public health crisis will accelerate the movement toward test-optional admissions. Already, several colleges have announced that they will not be requiring standardized tests for admissions next year in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

To read the full article, click here >>

“Empty Benches at Empty Lab Tables” by Elizabeth Redden in Inside Higher Ed

Major research institutions across the nation have shut down “nonessential” labs to control the spread of COVID-19. While research associated with COVID-19 will be funded under the federal government’s coronavirus stimulus plan, other scientific research is not included. This has caused universities to halt sometimes years-long research projects, both slowing the advancement of science and incurring large costs for institutions.

To read the full article, click here >> 

“Coronavirus Upends College Giving Days as Institutions Pivot to Raise Money for Students’ Basic Needs” by Emily Haynes in the Chronicle of Philanthropy

College are reconsidering their fundraising strategies in the wake of the pandemic. In response to the urgent needs of students who must now finish their semesters at home, many institutions have shifted the focus of their “Giving Days” to raising money for student hardship funds, instead of engaging alumni in lifetime giving. College development offices anticipate that this shift will remove some of the social aspect of fundraising campaigns, but potentially attract different and new donors that are motivated by the difficulties that students currently face.  

To read the full article, click here >>

“For Higher Education, Nothing Matters More Than September” by Paul LeBlanc in Forbes

While colleges and universities are facing unprecedented challenges as they shut down operations for the spring semester, Southern New Hampshire University President Paul LeBlanc notes that, if the coronavirus outbreak lingers into the fall, the outlook will be even worse. If students cannot or are reluctant to pay for and attend college next fall, institutions must prepare for tough times ahead. “For many colleges, there are two large infusions of cash revenue each year. When students pay for the fall semester and then again for the spring semester. Cash flow gets very tight in the weeks before those tuition checks start coming in and less wealthy colleges often dip into a line of credit to carry them through. If they are denied normal tuition revenue this fall, as well as room and board revenue (room and board revenue often spells the difference between a deficit and a surplus for many institutions), they will be in crisis mode.”

To read the full article, click here >>

“Liberty University Demonstrates What Not To Do During A Pandemic” by Michael Poliakoff in Forbes

ACTA President Michael Poliakoff examines Liberty University’s decision to welcome back students following their spring break, despite most colleges closing their campuses in response to coronavirus. On Monday, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s stay-at-home order forced the university to end the last of its in-person classes. “In times of crisis, higher education is often called upon to serve the greater good. During World War I, colleges and universities helped sell liberty bonds to finance the war effort. In World War II, they planted victory gardens to help boost public morale. Now, in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, it is their obligation to close their doors to help slow the spread of the virus and potentially save lives. Long before now, Liberty University should have realized that it has a civic duty to enact strong preventative measures.”

To read the full article, click here >>

Week of March 23, 2020

“A Coronavirus Stimulus Plan Is Coming. How Will Higher Education Figure In?” by Danielle McLean in the Chronicle of Higher Education

As the federal government plans initiatives to provide economic relief in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, onlookers are speculating if, or how, higher education will be included in policy proposals. Higher education stakeholders have discussed the possibilities of student loan relief, federal assistance to prevent college closures, and cash payments to aid students with relocation.

To read the full article, click here >>

“COVID-19 Is No Time For Uncle Sam To Have Schools Worrying About Paperwork” by Frederick Hess in Forbes

Frederick Hess, director of education policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, discusses how the U.S. Department of Education must limit red tape and bureaucracy to provide schools more flexibility to respond to student needs during the pandemic. For example, Mr. Hess examines the bureaucratic hoops associated with dismissing students from federally mandated tests scheduled during the outbreak. Mr. Hess focuses on K-12 education, but the expansive bureaucracy in higher education is just as difficult for colleges to overcome in times of emergency. 

To read the full article, click here >>

“Moody’s lowers higher ed outlook to negative amid coronavirus crisis” by Jeremy Bauer-Wolf in Education Dive

Last week, Moody’s Investors Service announced that it is lowering its financial outlook for the higher education sector from stable to negative, in response to COVID-19. Colleges and universities will have their bottom lines stressed as they make decisions to go remote, respond to emergency cases, and rethink their enrollment timelines.

To read the full article, click here >>

“Questions Without Answers on Admissions” by Scott Jaschik in Inside Higher Ed

“There’s no good time for a pandemic,” said Jon Boeckenstedt, vice provost for enrollment management at Oregon State University. “But for admissions, this has got to be the worst time.” With the coronavirus pandemic hitting right when colleges and universities would normally be sending out acceptance letters, admissions departments are scrambling to determine a strategy. And with many families’ incomes likely to be hurt by the pandemic, it is unclear how many students will be enrolling in college next fall. 

To read the full article, click here >>


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