Higher Education’s Nightmare Scenario

Public colleges face two crises: the impact of Covid-19 on their operations and a downturn in state funding brought on by the current recession. And based on what state budget offices are saying, the funding problem for higher education is about to get a lot worse. Without action by the federal government, higher education in most states will be facing severe cuts, very likely larger than those incurred during the recession of 2008-9. There has already been a large contraction in our industry’s work force, and state systems are feeling the pain: In Pennsylvania, for instance, a plan to lay off approximately 350 faculty members has reportedly been expedited. All of that may merely be prelude to a looming, historic decline in the sector. There is time to act, but the window is closing. Academic leaders are planning now for unprecedented cuts.

The current budget plan for most states

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