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The Changing Profile of College Presidents

May 1, 2023

The results of the latest "American College President Study" from the American Council on Education finds that despite some diversity gains, college presidents continue to be mostly older, white, and male  Though racial and gender diversity has increased since the last study conducted in 2016, the change is very modest.  It is failing to keep pace with the changing demographics of college students.  According to the ACE survey results, their average age is 60, 67 percent are male, and 72 percent identified as white.  That means that 33 percent of the presidents surveyed are female, and 28 percent identified as nonwhite.  The average age is 60, 67 percent are male, and 72 percent identified as white.  The numbers mark a shift from the 2016 survey which found that the average college president was 61,7 years old and 83 percent identified as white.  While the executive office has diversified racially, the number of female presidents has increased only slightly.  

According to the survey respondents, 53.8 rose through the faculty and academic ranks to reach the presidency while another 27.9 percent were administrative leaders in student affairs, auxiliary services, finance, and other areas.  The remaining 18.3 percent came from a mix of public service/government, nonprofit, and business jobs.   On average, respondents said they have been in their jobs 5.9 years.  That number has fallen steadily according to each of the last three surveys, down from 6.5 years in 2016, seven years in 2011, and 8.5 in 2006.  And more than half of the presidents surveyed indicated they plan to depart their role within five years.   The survey found that 25 percent intend to  step down "within the next year or two," while 30 percent plan to leave within three to five years.

Demographic Trends in College Transfer Enrollment

March 29, 2023

The effects of the pandemic continue to shake up college enrollments, particularly with respect to transfer students.  Between 2020 and 2022, transfer enrollments dropped nearly 7 percent according to the latest data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.  Some of the decline can be attributed to the shrinking enrollment at community colleges.  Four-year institutions are connected with what's known as upward transfers, a move to one of those campuses from a community colleges.  Upward transfers have experienced a steep decline since the onset of the pandemic, plunging 14.5 percent to 78,500 students.  Racial disparities are evident in the Clearinghouse data.  Asian and White students experience the largest transfer declines since the pandemic started, drops of 14.8 and 12.2 respectively.  The transfer rate for students identified as Latino, African-American, and Native-Americans rose 8 percent between fall 2020 and fall 2022.  Transfer patterns also vary by gender.  Over two years, the share of men transferring shrunk by 4 percent, compared to the share of women, who saw a more than 9 percent decline in transfers.  The enrollment challenge continues for higher education institutions, particularly for community colleges and four-year colleges and universities that are more enrollment dependent on community college transfer students.

Good News:  Applications are on the Rise for Fall 2023

February 2, 2023

Undergraduate enrollment has stabilized according to new data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, which provides a final tally on enrollment for the fall of 2022.  It marks a slowdown of trend that has been in effect for many years, and which had been worsened during the pandemic.  Furthermore, college applications are up for the fall of 2023, including underrepresented and first-generation students.  In short, more applicants have applied to more institutions compared to the fall semester of 2019, just before the outbreak of COVID-19 in March, 2020.  Listed below are some of the encouraging statistics:

  • Total application volume rose by 36 percent to over 4 million.
  • Applicants filed an average of 4.3 applicants each--a 10 percent increase.
  • Underrepresented minority applicants grew by 37 percent while first generation applicants rose by 43 percent.
  • The number of international applicants has increased at over triple the rate of domestic applicants since 2019-2020.  China, India, Nigeria, and Canada were the leading countries for international applicants.
  • Applicants to public institutions grew more than those of private schools--47 percent for publics, 25 percent for privates.

While an increase in applicants does not guarantee an increase in enrollment for the fall of 2023, there is reason for optimism after the challenges of COVID-19.

Enrollment Remains Top Risk Cited By Colleges

January 9, 2023

Enrollment remains the biggest risk cited by college and university leaders for the fourth year in a row, according to the 2022 Top Risks Report from United Educators.  Data security ranked second for the third year in a row.  Recruitment and hiring jumped from 14th place to third and student mental health ranked fifth. 

Title IX concerns fell to 10th place, down from third place in 2019-2020, and sexual misconduct, which includes sexual abuse and sexual harassment, dropped to the 18th spot.  Following a two-year absence, external pressures, which includes economic, political, and societal influences, captured the sixth spot.  And not surprisingly, COVID-19 and future pandemics, which ranked third last year, dropped to the 20th spot. 

The survey reflects the most pressing ranks named in September, 2022 by the leaders of 509 colleges and universities.

Anticipated Enrollment Rebound Did Not Materialize

December 5, 2023

As the effects of the pandemic wane, higher education leaders and researchers have been anxiously awaiting this fall's enrollment numbers to reveal a clear picture of the new landscape.  While early signs led many to predict a slight rebound from the steep two-year drop-off during he pandemic, a new report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center shows that enrollment fell for the fifth semester in a row.  Overall enrollment fell by 1.1 percent, closer to the pre=pandemic levels than the more dramatic declines that shocked leaders over the past two years.  The biggest concern is that there is not a huge upsurge in the freshman enrollment at four-year institutions.  The fact that institutions are not regaining a great deal of ground this fall after the pandemic is a surprise and a disappointment to many.

One bright spot came in the sector hardest hit during the pandemic:  community colleges.  While overall enrollment at two-year institutions is still down, it only shrank by 0.4 percent since the fall of 2021, a significant improvement over the nearly 10 percent decline community colleges suffered in both 2019 and 2020.  And for the first  time since 2019, enrollment declines were worse at public four-year institutions than community colleges.  Enrollment declines were steeper among women than men for the second year in a row, reversing a long-time trend.  Enrollment declines for white students were steeper than any other group this fall--a shift from pre-pandemic trends.  Still, there was no growth in any ethnic group except for Latino students.  It appears as if some things have to be done differently .  Enrollment patterns have permanently changed since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Christian Higher Education Month

October 3, 2022

In 2003, the United States House of Representatives passed a resolution honoring October as Christian Higher Education Month.  While 19 years have passed since the resolution was introduced, October still remains an important month as we have the opportunity to recognize hundreds of colleges and universities that are committed to Christ-centered higher education.  I have had the privilege of working with three such institutions, all of which are associated with the Association for Biblical Higher Education and/or the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, and continue to develop Christian leaders for the 21st Century who can think, live, and serve effectively in the Church and the world.

Colleges Report Strong Fundraising Year

August 29, 2022

Many colleges and universities have set fundraising records as fiscal year 2022 comes to a close.  Experts note that higher education philanthropy has grown in recent years, even amid a pandemic.  With the 2021-2022 fiscal year in the books, some institutions are reporting record fundraising years even amid the uncertainty of high inflation.  A number of colleges, public and private, are seeing success.  Broadly speaking, the results vary by institution,  but the overall giving to higher education is up.  Philanthropy is booming.  Charitable donations across all sectors, not just higher education, hit a record high of $485 billion in the calendar year 2021, per the latest Giving U.S.A. Report released in July.  The only year better than 2021 for overall educational philanthropy was 2020, the year the COVID-19 pandemic began.  Giving U>S.A. reported $72.8 billion for education in 2020 and $70.8 billion in 2021.  Giving U.S.A, tracks contributions by the calendar year, not the fiscal year, results for 2022 will be available next summer.

Business Officers Upbeat Despite Major Headwinds

August 1, 2022

Scanning the landscape, college and university financial leaders would seem to have plenty to worry about.  Student enrollments are declining and tuition revenues along with them.  Inflation is high.  The federal government has turned off the tap on the recovery funding that helped many institutions weather the COVID-19 pandemic and related recession.   Even colleges and universities with large endowments have to be nervous watching the stock market officially enter bear market territory by dropping more than 20 percent in 2022.

However, a different picture emerges in the results of Inside Higher Education's "2022 Survey of College and University Business Officers" which were recently released.  While the 248 business officers surveyed acknowledge many of the pressures facing their institutions and express slightly less optimism than they did in last year's survey, they are on balance upbeat about their institutions' financial stability and largely disinclined to see the need for dramatic changes in how they operate.

Among the findings:

  • About two=thirds of business officers (65 percent) agree that their institution will be financially stable over the next decade.
  • Sixty-four percent of business officers say their institution is in better shape than it was in 2019, before the pandemic hit, due tin large part to American Rescue Plan funds.
  • About three-quarters of business officers said their institution was either very (54 percent) or somewhat (21 percent) likely to have finished the 2021-2022 fiscal year with a positive operating margin.
  • A full half of business officers said their institution had largely "returned to normal" operations in the wake of the pandemic.  
  • Fewer than a quarter of business officers  say senior leaders at their institution have had serious discussions about merging or consolidating academic programs or administrative operations with another institution.

These responses left some financial experts suggesting that the business leaders "may be wearing rose-colored glasses.  Should chief financial officers really be as upbeat as the survey suggests?

A Fifth Straight Semester of Enrollment Declines

June 15. 2022

Enrollment across all sectors of higher education continued to decline this past semester, extending a trend that began during the coronavirus pandemic, according to new data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.  Total enrollment for the Spring 2002 fell by 4.1 percent.  The latest numbers mark the fifth semester in a row of declining overall enrollment.  The report from Spring 2020 counted 17.1 million students across all levels of higher education.  that number is now 15.9 million.   The decline is even more marked at the undergraduate level, where NSC data show an enrollment drop of 4.7 percent for Spring 2022.  By the numbers, that means undergraduate enrollment fell by 662,000 students in the Spring 2022 and has dipped around 1.4 million since the outset of the pandemic in 2022.  Though much of the report may be concerning for higher education, the first-time freshman enrollment is a bright spot in the latest data, up by 4.2 percent, or 13,700 students.  That reverses a decline of 3.5 percent or 11,800 students from last spring.  However, a special analysis in this year's report broke down the first-time freshman data by race, and it showed a 6.5 percent drop in Black freshman enrollment compared to last spring.  Black students were the only demographic that declined among first-time freshmen.  Graduate student enrollment, which had been trending upward, fell by 0.8 percent this Spring.  Broken down by sector, the new data show public community colleges are again hit the hardest on enrollment, experiencing a 7.8 percent enrollment decline over Spring 2021.  Public four-year colleges saw the second biggest decline, at 3.4 percent, followed by a 1.7 percent slide at private non-profit four-year colleges, and a 0.2 percent dip at private for-profit four-year colleges.  

Tuition Discounts Hit Another Record High

May 27, 2022

Tuition discount rates at private colleges reached a record high of 54.5 percent, according to the a new National Association of College and University Business Officers study.  That signals that financial aid is available  but also that pricing is arbitrary.  That number is up from the previous year's record high of 53.9 percent.  Simplified, that means colleges forgo about $54.50 for every $100 charged for tuition.  NACUBO defines the institutional discount measured in the study as "the total institutional grant awarded for first-time undergraduates as a percentage of the the gross tuition and fee revenue the institution would collect if all students paid the sticker price."  While the 54.5 percent number may be an all-time high, colleges have been marching  steadily toward that figure for years.  The discount rate for all undergraduates, not just first-year students, at private colleges is 49 percent, the NACUBO report shows.   NACUBO figures show a nearly 10 percentage-point increase in the average institutional discount rate for all undergraduates since the 2012-2013 academic year.

Poll Indicates the Public Doesn't Favor Affirmative Action for College Admissions

May 4, 2022

Americans do not favor the consideration of race, ethnicity, or gender in college admissions decisions.  A new Pew Research Center report found that 74 percent think race and ethnicity should not be considered in admissions decisions.  For gender, 82 percent think it should not be considered.  The results extend to every racial group and to both Democrats and Republicans.  The findings come as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear two cases, probably in October, on the future of affirmative action in admissions.  Briefs have been filed for Students for Fair Admissions challenging the affirmative actions policies of Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  The Supreme Court does not consider the public's opinion on issues (at least not officially.   But the data point to a major problem for colleges and universities, given the fact that most colleges haves backed the positions of Harvard and UNC.  Pew broke the responses on race and ethnicity in by race and political party.  The proportions who believe that race and ethnicity shouldn't be considered were 79 percent white people, 59 percent for  black people, 68 percent for Hispanics, and 63 percent for Asians.   In terms of politics, while 87 percent of Republicans said race and ethnicity should not be considered, 62 percent of  Democrats agreed.  The survey was of 10,441 American adults.  

Biden Extends Pause on Student Loan Repayment

April 7, 2022

President Biden  on Wednesday, April 6,  extended by four months, to September 1, the pandemic-era pause on repaying student loans.  The move appears to have pleased very few in Washington, D.C.  The Democrats urged him to do more and cancel some or all of federal student loans.  Republicans said he should let the pause end.  In announcing the extension, the fourth of his administration, President Biden noted, "In January 2021, on my first day in office, I directed the Department  of Education to pause federal student loan repayments through September of that year.  At the time our economy was barely growing.  Fewer than one percent of Americans were fully vaccinated.  Millions of Americans were struggling to stay afloat.  Forty-one million Americans were able to breathe a little easier during some of the toughest days of the COVID-a9 pandemic."  The Education Department also announced that "all borrowers with paused loans will receive a "fresh start" on repayment by eliminating the impact of delinquency and default and allowing them to reenter payment in good standing.   While the latest extension my provide temporary relief for some former students who are still feeling the financial impact of the pandemic, this should not change the fact that student loan repayment must resume sooner rather than later.  To continue to delay repayment of student loans reinforces financial irresponsibility.  It is also very unfair to millions of American who have received students loans in the past and  have repaid them in a timely and responsible manner.


College Presidents Confident as Pandemic Declines

March 2, 2022

Even as COVID-19 slowly eases it grip on colleges and universities, campus leaders would seem to have plenty to worry about.  Enrollments have fallen since the beginning of the pandemic and the federal government has closed the spigot on generous recovery aid.  However, higher education leaders seem unfazed according  to Inside Higher Education's 2022 Survey of College and University Presidents.  Chief executive officers are upbeat and generally confident that their institutions are prepared for what's ahead.  Most notably, they are optimistic about their institutions' financial situations.  Listed below are a few highlights from the Survey:

  • Three-quarters of respondents agree that their college will be financially stable over the next decade.
  • Two-thirds of presidents say that their institution has sufficient capacity to meet the mental health needs of undergraduate students.
  • A majority of campus leaders say that fewer than a quarter of their non-faculty employees are working remotely this spring semester..
  • Three-quarters of presidents rate the quality of their in-person courses at their institution this semester as excellent.  A quarter (27 percent) say the same thing about their hybrid courses, and just 19 percent rate their fully online courses that way.
  • About eight in ten campus leaders say their institution is unlikely to shrink its physical campus in the next five years.
  • Most presidents (85 percent) say their institutions have not had serious high-level discussions about merging with another college or university.

Not only does the pandemic seem not to have shaken the presidents' confidence, but many appear to believe that it has improved their institutions' situations.   Many have benefited from the substantial infusion of federal recovery aid funds,  and  most campuses have reopened and are again receiving significant revenue from auxiliary enterprises such as housing and dining, and better than expected revenue from fundraising.  Presidents are almost three times as likely to agree as to disagree that their institutions are in better shape than they were a year ago and almost twice as likely to agree that they are in better shape than they were in 2019.  Community college presidents are more divided though; 35 percent say their institution may be in worse shape a year from now.

SAT Will Go Digital and Cut an Hour from the Test

February 7, 2022

The College Board announced that the SAT will be delivered digitally internationally beginning in 2023 and in the U.S. in 2024.  The PSAT will be delivered digitally in 2023.  The new format does not mean a change in the place of testing--The College Board will continue to require the test to be taken in a testing center.  Students will be able to use their own device (laptop or tablet) or a school-issued device.  If students don't have a device to use, the College Board will provide one for use on the test day.  If a student loses connectivity or power, the digital SAT has been designed to ensure that students won't lose their work or time while they are reconnected.  

"The digital SAT will be easier to take, easier to give, and more relevant, " said Priscilla Rodriguez, Vice President for College Readiness Assessments at College Board.  "We are not simply putting the current SAT on a digital platform--we are taking full advantage of what delivering an assessment digitally makes possible."

Other changes to the SAT include::

  • It will be shorter--about two hours instead of three for the current SAT with more time per question.
  • The digital test will feature shorter reading passages with one question tied to each passage.
  • Calculators will be allowed on the entire mathematics section
  • Student will get scores back in days instead of weeks.

The College Board is making the changes at a tough time for the organization and its main rival, ACT.  Hundreds of thousands fewer students took the two standardized tests last year because of the pandemic.  Many testing centers were closed, and most colleges went test optional.

Dealing with COVID-19 in January, 2022

January 3, 2022

Omicron's arrival leads many colleges to shift plans for the semester that is starting on many campuses this week.  Some institutions face criticism for doing so, and some face criticism for not making changes.  Remember the start of the fall semester, when college presidents spoke about how their institutions could resume normal operations?  Fast-forward to the last weeks of December, and it's clear the pandemic isn't close to being gone.  Omicron, a variant of the coronavirus, has spread in the United States and Canada and is now the dominant form of SARS-CO2 found in North America.  Many institutions, especially those where the spring semester begins this week, are adjusting their academic calendars.  Some colleges or universities are holding a few weeks of classes online and discouraging students from returning to campus.  Other institutions have delayed the start of their semesters.  Some are switching the start of the semester to online only.  January terms, in which students students study one subject for a few weeks, have largely gone online.  Some institutions announced their decisions before Christmas.  Other announcements came on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.  It is hard to believe that the pandemic is still serving as a major disruption to higher education for the third academic year in a row dating back to March, 2020.  When will it ever end?

U.S. Graduate Enrollments Grew in Fall of 2021

December 3, 2021

Graduate enrollments grew in the fall of 2021 despite big drops in incoming international students.  U.S. graduate schools saw increases although there were significant differences across fields of study, according to the latest annual survey from the Council of Graduate Schools.  The CGS survey found that graduate applications increased by 7.3 percent and first-time graduate enrollment increased by 1.8 percent in comparison to the pandemic year of 2020.   Gains in domestic student enrollment, including enrollment increases among students from ethnically diverse backgrounds, drove the overall increase.  First-time enrollment of international graduate students decreased by 37.4 percent, a drop attributed largely to the disruption of the COVID-19 pandemic, while domestic graduate student enrollment grew by 12.9 percent.  The number of new students enrolling full-time in graduate programs decreased by 3.7 percent, while the number of new students enrolling in part-time study grew by 13.5 percent from 2020 to 2021.  

Undergraduate Enrollment Continues to Slide in 2021

November 1, 2021

As the pandemic drags on, campus life hasn't quite bounced back to what it was before COVID-19 according to a new report,  and neither has college enrollment.  Preliminary reports from the National Student Clearing House Research Center, released in late October, reveal a 3.2 percent dip in enrollment this fall compared with a year earlier.  It's a decline that echoes that of last fall and has contributed to a 6.5 percent drop in undergraduate enrollment from fall, 2019.  Overall the postsecondary enrollment fell 2.3 percent this year, for a two year decline of 4.3 percent.  However, there were exceptions to the decline. particularly in graduate education.  Here are a few key observations:

  • Community colleges bore the brunt of enrollment declines.  Community colleges saw no upside from the pandemic-induced recession, just a downside with an enrollment drop of 14.3 percent since 2019.
  • There was a smaller drop in freshmen enrollment.  The decline in first-year student enrollment was 3.1 percent in 2021 from a year earlier.  The first year numbers at all institutions, including community colleges, are 12.3 percent smaller than they were in 2019.
  • Enrollment at highly selective, private, four-year institutions grew by 4.3 percent in 2021.  Less selective private colleges saw enrollment fall by 2.1 percent.  Enrollment also increased at highly selective public institutions  where undergraduate attendance increased by 1 percent; less selective public's enrollment fell by 5.2 percent.
  • Graduate enrollments grew by 1.8 percent for the second year in a row despite big drops in incoming international students.  Gains in part-time and minority students helped fuel the increase. 

The critical issue is whether students whose college plans were thwarted by the pandemic will either apply  as freshmen or will return.  As wages increase in a tight employment market, it seems like more people have opted to work instead of attend college.  Trying to understand how students get back into the college path is very important.

Is Campus Life Back to Normal?

October 6, 2021​

The welcome signs on many campuses this fall had a common message:  Life is getting back to normal despite another fall term taking place in the shadow of the pandemic.  Students can attend in-person career fairs, dorm parties, concerts, drama productions, chapel services, and athletic events.  Yet despite the marked shift from many of last year's virtual events to this year's in-person ones at most residential campuses, life on campus hasn't fully snapped back to 2019's volume of offerings--and some mix of virtual and hybrid events seems like it is here to stay.  The patterns of face-to-face versus virtual events is going to vary from institution to institution and from location to location.  I have been on a number of campuses this fall, all smaller Christian colleges and universities, relative to my consulting activities and it is not nearly as locked down as it was during the 2020-2021 academic year.   However, there are still many of the COVID protocols in place with an abundance of caution being exercised.  It may be some time before institutions can return to their normal patterns of academic and social behavior.

International Students in Canada are Becoming Less Diverse

September 7, 2021

International students who are studying in Canada are becoming less diverse, reports Statistics Canada, which could be problematic for Canada in the long run.  International students are reportedly being drawn to programs that are shorter in length, lower cost, located in Ontario, and focused on fields such as business, management, and public administration.  The report also indicates that Canada is receiving an increasing number of students from the top 10 countries with India leading the way; 68.8 percent of college students and 21.3 percent of university students are coming from India.  The report indicates that these trends go against Ottawa's International Education Strategy, which emphasizes the importance of diversification to ensure that students pursue education in a variety of regions and institutions, come from a variety of international markets, reducing the impact if a country goes into an economic downturn.

DOJ Will Defend Title IX Exemption in LGBTQ+ Student Suite

August 2, 2021

The Department of Justice said in a court filing that it intends to "vigorously" defend an exemption to Title IX that allows religious colleges to discriminate against LGBTQ+ students, the Washington Post reported.  The filing comes as part of a lawsuit filed against the Department of Education filed by a group of LGBTQ+ students affiliated with a variety of Christian colleges.  The students are seeking a determination that the exemption for religious colleges to Title IX, the federal lawsuit prohibits discrimination based on sex and gender, is unconstitutional.  Some LGBTQ+ advocates were disturbed ty the Biden administration's filing in the case.  Other people said the administration had no choice but to defend the law.  They also noted the purpose of the Justice Department's filing, which was to object to  requests from religious colleges to intervene in the lawsuit and defend the exemption on the government's behalf.  Still the Post noted that the Justice Department amended the document the day after it was first filed, removing the world "vigorously" to describe the planned defense while keeping the descriptor "adequate."  The Biden administration also removed the language that said the administration and Christian colleges "share the same 'ultimate objective' which is to uphold the Religious Exemption as it is currently applied."

Colleges Seek to Intervene in Title IX Religious Exemption Suit

June 1, 2021

Three  Christian higher education institutions are petitioning a federal district court to allow them to intervene as defenders in a lawsuit challenging the religious exemption to Title IX,  a nearly 50-year-old law that prohibits sex-based discrimination at federally funded colleges.  More than 30 former or current students at Christian colleges filed the Title IX lawsuit against the Department of Education.  They argue that the exemption to Title IX for religious institutions as it's applied to LGBTQ + students is unconstitutional and has left LGBTQ+ students unprotected in the face of their colleges' discriminatory policies.  The students in the suit attended or sought attendance at one of about two dozen Christian colleges.  These institutions are identified in the suit, but are not parties to it.  Three additional Christian higher education institutions that are not mentioned in the suit--Corban University, William Jessup University, and Phoenix Seminary--filed a motion with the court a few weeks ago asking for the right to intervene in the suit to defend the religious exemption to Title IX.  "Their very existence of Title IX's Religious Exemption is at stake here, yet none of the current parties are religious educational institutions that benefit from this exemption," their motion states.  They add, "The Court should not assess the Religious Exemption's constitutionality without hearing from the very institutions the exemption was designed to protect."   A significant number of Christian higher education institutions (Bible colleges, liberal arts colleges, theological seminaries) have applied for and been granted a Title IX exemption related to sexual orientation and gender identity, but this exemption continues to be challenged.  

 College Health Group Recommends Requiring COVID Vaccines

May 1, 2021

The American College Health Association is recommending that colleges require vaccination against COVID-19 for all students coming to campuses this fall.   

"The American College Health Association (ACHA) recognizes that comprehensive COVID-19 vaccination is the most effective way for institutions of higher education to return to a safe, robust on-campus experience for students this fall semester, 2021,"  the Association said in a statement.  "Therefore, where state law and available resources allow, ACHA recommends COVID-19 vaccination requirements for all on-campus college and university students for fall semester of 2021, in accordance with institution's normal exemption practices, including exemptions for medical contradictions.  This recommendation applies to all students who live on campus and/or participate in on-campus classes, studies, research, or activities.  

In considering whether to mandate COVID-19 vaccines, which are currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration's emergency use authorization process, colleges are grappling with a host of legal and political questions.  As of May 30, more than 180 colleges plan to require students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 this fall, according to a listed maintained by the Chronicle of Higher Education.  However, this by no means represents a large percentage of higher education institutions.   There are approximately 4,200 accredited, degree-granting colleges and universities in the United States.  Currently there are no institutions that are members of the Association for Biblical Higher Education or the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities that are requiring the vaccine for the fall semester, 2021.

Student Financial Aid Need Greater in Second Year of the Pandemic

April 2, 2021

Twenty-eight percent of college students experienced job loss and nearly one-quarter are receiving unemployment benefits as the coronavirus pandemic continues to damage financial security, according to a new survey of 11,000 students published by Course Hero, a course material sharing website.  More than 60 percent of the students surveyed in mid-February said food and rent were their top two financial needs, according to an overview of the survey results.  The finding represents an increase from the Course Hero's COVID-19 Impact Survey from last year, which found that nearly 50 percent of students were in need of money for food and rent.  Students are also in greater needs of funds for technology essentials for online instruction.  About one-quarter of the students said they need help paying for laptops or internet access, compared to nearly 18 percent who said this in March of 2020.  Six percent of those recently surveyed said they have dropped out of college and more than 40 percent reported some "change in plans" for their college education due to the pandemic.

Report:  Students T​hink Value of College Declined

March 1, 2021

Ninety-four percent of college students surveyed believe online classes should cost less than in-person instruction, according to a new report from Barnes & Noble Education.  The report is based upon responses from 1,438 students and provides an outlook on the future of higher education following the coronavirus pandemic.  Nearly half of the students surveyed also said that the value of college has declined as a result of the pandemic.  While nearly al the students surveyed said that the cost of online classes should be reduced, only 43 percent of administrators and 41 percent of faculty members believed it should be, according to the report.  When asked what services should be provided by their colleges and universities, students expressed interest in career planning services (47 percent), student life services such as mental health support (42 percent), and academic support (30 percent).  The survey results indicate that colleges will need to shift their traditional models to be more "outcome-based," providing students with more career preparation for the post-pandemic job market.  "The value of a college degree will become more dependent on its ability to drive post-graduate success."

One-Third of Students Seek Counseling for Pandemic Effects

February 3, 2021

About one-third of students who sought care from their college counseling centers during the second half of 2020 said that the visit was related to the mental health effects of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Center for Collegiate Mental Health, a research group made up of college counseling centers and based at Penn State University.    The Center said that 33 percent of these students indicated they visited their campus center for a mental health issue related to COVID-19 or events linked to the pandemic, while 67 percent sought support for unrelated reasons.   Sixty-five percent of the students said the pandemic has led to some mental health challenges, and 61 percent said it hurt their "motivation and focus."  Sixty percent of the students said the pandemic has caused "loneliness or isolation," and 59 percent said it has negatively affected academics.    "Academic distress appears to be a key driver in seeking mental-health care during during COVID-19, which may represent a broader experience of distress caused by academic worry."  It will be essential for colleges and universities to be attentive, prepared, resourced, and creative to address the ongoing and future challenges encountered by students due to the pandemic, particularly for those who serve in areas of student life.

Fewer International Students at Christian Colleges

January 4, 2021

Embassy and consulate closures, coronavirus-related travel bans, and fewer international flights made it difficult for international students to attend school this past semester.  Total international student enrollment across American higher education dropped by 16 percent, according to a survey of 700 institutions by the  Institute of International Education.  New international student enrollment declined by 43 percent.  Approximately 40,000 international students deferred enrollment to a future term.  The decline was less pronounced at small Christian colleges, but the absence of international students is still straining institutions in major ways.

On average, about 4 percent of students at Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU)-associated schools from outside the United States, according to the most recent data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.  Recruiting more is often a priority.

International students, first and foremost, bring a global perspective to a campus and have an impact on student life.  Finances are a second driver.  Many U.S. colleges are facing challenges in enrolling students from the U.S. leading to revenue losses, and international students sometimes pay more than their U.S. peers.  Christian colleges, however, commit dollars to recruiting and providing financial aid to international students because of the bigger values they feel that international students bring to the campus culture.

College Graduation Rates Remain Flat

December 9, 2020

National graduation rates have plateaued at four-year colleges, and community college rates have decreased, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.  The six-year completion rate for those who started college in 2014 is up by 0.3 percent, bringing it up to 60.1 percent.  The national eight-year completion rate fell by 0.5 percentage points to 61.3 percent--the first decline in years.  Adult graduation rates are generally increasing, but completion rates for traditional-age students are plateauing, and those students made up the majority of the 2014 cohort.  Completion rates for four-year colleges are doing better than those of community colleges.  Community colleges were the only type of institution to see an overall drop, of 0.5 percent, in the six-year completion rate.  Completion rates at four-year public colleges improved by 0.7 percent points, and rates at private four-year colleges improved by 0.2 percent.  It is unlikely that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected this year's six- and eight-year completion rates, the report states.

Re​port: 28% of Co​llege Students Come from Immigrant Families

November 4, 2020

Students from immigrant families accounted for 28 percent of U.S. college students in 2019, up from 20 percent in 2000, according to a new analysis by the Migration Policy Institute commissioned by the President's Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration. The number of students from Immigrant parents--those who were either born abroad or born in the U.S. to immigrant parents-grew at a much faster rate than the number of U.S. born students with U.S. born parents. The analysis does not include international students. Researchers found that the majority (68 percent) of students from immigrant families are U.S. citizens while another 16 percent are naturalized citizens. Immigrants and U.S. born children of immigrants accounted for 85 percent of all Asian Americans and Pacific Islander students and 63 percent of all Latino students.

Students from immigrant families made up 50 percent of all college students in California. States where immigrant students made up a quarter of the college population or more were: Hawaii (40 percent), Nevada (40 percent), Florida (40 percent), New York (39 percent), New Jersey (36 percent), Massachusetts (34 percent), Washington (32 percent), Texas (32 percent), Connecticut (29 percent), Arizona (27 percent), Maryland (27 percent), Virginia (27 percent), Illinois (26 percent), and Oregon (25 percent).

College Enrollments Drop for Fall of 2020

October 1, 2020

Undergraduate enrollments are down by 2.5 percent compared to the fall of 2019, with the biggest losses being at community colleges, where enrollments declined by 7.5 percent, according to preliminary data on fall enrollments from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Although the enrollment declines were the steepest at community colleges, undergraduate enrollment fell at all types of colleges, including private nonprofit four-year colleges (-3.8 percent) and private for-profit four-year colleges (-1.9 percent). The decline was more modest at public four-year colleges (-0.4 percent), although there were differences across public four-year institutions according to location, with rural institutions seeing the biggest decline (-4.0 percent) and urban institutions seeing slight gains (+0.5 percent). The first glimpse of fall enrollment data during the COVID-19 pandemic, and economic recession shows that undergraduate enrollment fell for students of all ethnicities. There were sizable declines in international enrollments at both undergraduate (-11.2 percent) and graduate (-5.0 percent) levels . Total graduate enrollment increased by 3.9 percent.

No Clear Advice on Closing Dorms

September 17, 2020

Top U.S. health experts worry colleges will spread coronavirus if they send students hope, but keeping residence halls open poses its own dangers.  Top medical leaders dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak urged colleges not to close residence halls and send potentially infected students back home.  "That's the worst thing you can do,"  said Dr. Anthony Fauci, echoing the sentiments of Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, and Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  However, this presents its own challenges as college and university leaders look for ways to quarantine students who have tested positive to the virus.  The steps colleges and universities are taking to make sure they are not sending asymptomatic but infected students around their states and the country are as varied as the advice they are getting from local health officials.  The amount of testing being done on campuses also varies greatly.    The time, the money, and the logistical implications are great for all higher education institutions in preventing the spread of this dreadful virus.

Survey: 4 of 5 Students Face Disruption From Virus

Larry McKinney: Posted on Tuesday, May 12, 2020 1:57 PM


MAY 12, 2020

Students whose lives were significantly disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic may change their plans to remain or re-enroll in college. A survey from ReUP Education, a company that helps institutions retain and re-enroll students, found that only one out of five of the 678 students surveyed said they are facing no disruption from the virus. About 40 percent of those who said they are facing major disruptions are either significantly or modestly less likely to re-enroll in college.

COVID-19 Causes Concern For Fall Enrollment

Larry McKinney: Posted on Tuesday, April 28, 2020 1:58 PM


APRIL 28, 2020

As the traditional May 1 college decision day approaches, admissions leaders have been expressing concern that a significant number of students who have paid deposits promising to attend certain institutions will opt out against enrolling because of the coronavirus pandemic. Admissions officers always expect some students who told a college they planned to attend not to enroll. The phenomenon has a name--"summer melt." However, the "summer melt" is expected to be much higher for this particular year.

Canadian Federal Government Announces COVID-19 Aid Package For College Students


APRIL 24, 2020

The Canadian Federal Government has announced a $9 billion aid package for qualifying college students to help them financially weather the storm for the next few months. The benefit will pay students a minimum of $1,250 per month from May-August. Students who earn up to $1,000 per month will still be eligible for the benefit and will be able to volunteer in critical service sectors and receive additional funds.


Larry McKinney: Posted on Thursday, March 19, 2020 4:51 PM


MARCH 19, 2020

I am pleased that the Commission on Accreditation for the Association for Biblical Higher Education, the organization with whom I relate most closely in my consulting, is working with its member institutions because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most member institutions have suspended face-to-face instruction and are switching to online education for the remainder of the semester due to the threat of community spread of coronavirus. While member institutions are normally required to receive approval from the Commission on Accreditation if they offer 50 percent or more of a program via distance education, the COA supports their efforts to pursue a reasonable alternative to maintain the highest possible quality of education for their students during this emergency even if the action temporarily exceeds normal policy provisions.

Coronavirus Impacts International Programs Outside China

Larry J. McKinney: Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2020 2:35 PM


FEBRUARY 26, 2020

American colleges and universities are making changes in international programs in Italy, South Korea and elsewhere as the coronavirus spreads globally. Institutions are suspending operations and evacuating students, moving classes online, or warning students not to travel internationally as the global spread of the the new coronavirus begins to impact international programs in countries outside of China, where the virus first originated.

Bachelor's Degrees at Community Colleges

Larry J. McKinney: Posted on Monday, January 20, 2020 12:01 PM


JANUARY 20, 2020

More community colleges are offering bachelor's degrees, according to Community College Research Initiatives at the University of Washington. But how they are being implemented varies across the country. Twenty-three states now allow public two-year institutions to confer bachelor's degrees, but to varying degrees. Some states allow all two-year institutions to confer bachelor's degrees, while others allow some but not all, limiting the ability to confer degrees to certain institutions.

Fall Enrollments Still on the Decline

Larry J. McKinney: Posted on Thursday, December 19, 2019 3:40 PM


DECEMBER 19, 2019

Higher education enrollments for the Fall of 2019 declined for the eighth consecutive year, finds the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Overall enrollments dropped by 1.3 percent this Fall, more than 231,000 students to 17.9 million students. This was the case for all kinds of institutions: public four-years, public two-years, private non-profit four-years, and private for-profit four-years. Fifteen states, particularly in the South and West, saw enrollment increases.

The Greatest Story Ever Told

Larry McKinney: Posted on Tuesday, November 26, 2019 12:45 PM


November 26, 2019

It is beautifully described as "the greatest story ever told." It is most concisely expressed in the greatest statement ever made--John 3:16. No event in human history deserves or requires the use of as many superlatives as the birth of Jesus Christ. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

Christmas and giving are inseparable, for God established the pattern when he gave the gift of His one and only son who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and was born of a virgin.

Christian Higher Education Month

Larry J. McKinney: Posted on Monday, October 28, 2019 11:43 AM


OCTOBER 28, 2019

In 2003, the United States House of Representatives passed a resolution honoring October as Christian Higher Education Month. While 16 years have passed since this resolution was introduced, October still remains an important month as we have the opportunity to recognize hundreds of colleges and universities that are committed to Christ-centered education. I had the privilege of working with three such institutions in my career, all of which are associated with the Association for Biblical Higher Education and/or the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, and continue to develop Christian leaders for the 21st Century who can think, live, and serve effectively in the Church and the world.

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