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Friday 5: Things To Ponder This Week In Higher Ed 12/11/20

We hope that you were able to join us for our final Friday 5 Live of 2020! We looked back on this year with Dr. Denise Swett.  This was our final podcast for 2020. We will kick off Season 2 on January 15 as we discuss faculty and staff health for the year ahead!  If you missed our conversation, please check out our Friday 5 Live podcasts and share with colleagues!



COVID infection rates continue to increase across the country, and many states are responding with curfews and stay at home orders.  Colleges continue to announce spring plans.  University of Arizona students living on campus or attending in-person classes must be tested weekly or will lose access to campus WiFi. The University of Florida plans to increase face-to-face classes this spring; students and faculty are protesting that decision. Colorado State will provide satisfactory/unsatisfactory grading options for the fall semester, but the University of Maryland, College Park has informed students it will not consider their requests for a pass/no pass grading policy.



This week, the Chronicle of Higher Education examines the reasons behind the bleak community college enrollment numbers.  At times of economic downturn, historically community colleges see increased enrollment.  Across the nation enrollment is down 9% at community colleges. The article highlights the remoteness of online learning as a barrier to enrollment.  In addition, students lack technology and childcare and in this downturn must prioritize work over school.  There is grave concern that  minority, refugee, undocumented, and low income populations have not been able to enroll this fall in community colleges across the U.S., and as a result, equity gaps will only continue to increase.  The article highlights Guided Pathways programs as having a positive impact on enrollment and student success.


“We are already on the brink of taking several steps back in terms of supporting low-income communities and communities of color.” - Eloy O. Oakley, chancellor of the California Community Colleges system



A federal judge has reinstated DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.  Over 200,000 current college students potentially would have seen their education put in jeopardy had the restrictions imposed by the current administration been allowed to stand.  The Homeland Security Department is now accepting new DACA applications, and has extended one-year requests to two years.


500,000: Number of workers colleges lost from February to October (12% of its workforce) according to The Chronicle of Higher Education



This week Education Dive considers how higher education will recover from COVID.  Moody's Investors Service predicts that colleges will not rebound quickly from financial setbacks. Higher education operations will continue to be challenged through at least the first half of the year. Uncertainty about spring plans, uncertainty about enrollment numbers and uncertainty about international student enrollment paints a bleak picture for 2021.  “Moody's predicts net tuition revenue will decline at around 75% of private schools and 60% of publics.”  College budgets will remain strained as they face lower auxiliary income and decreases in state funding for public institutions.


Follow our Friday 5 Live podcast available now on your favorite podcasting app!


NPR reports this week on fall plans at colleges and universities where sports, particularly football, continued to be played but opportunities like graduation were canceled. Students have started petitions across the country “in hopes of getting their institutions to reconsider hosting in-person graduation ceremonies.” At the University of Missouri, students are questioning why 20,000 can attend a football game in person, but a graduation ceremony is considered a health concern.  Students at Florida State University also petitioned for a graduation ceremony for the 3,000 fall graduates and recommended using the football stadium which has a capacity of 79,000.
Author: Meg Foster
December 11, 2020
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