How US Universities Respond to the Covid-19 Crisis (Survey)
US college and university presidents open up about their worries.
InsideHigherEd and Hanover Research have conducted a survey of US college and university presidents exploring their concerns and perceptions about the Covid-19 crisis.
The survey, administered online in March 2020, includes a total of 172 respondents. Respondents were presidents or chancellors, currently employed at 4-year private, 4-year public, or 2-year public institutions.
Respondents worry most about the mental and physical health of students and employees in the immediate term. At least 80% of respondents are somewhat or very concerned about the mental and physical health of students and employees alike. There are also concerns about short-term unbudgeted financial costs, accessibility to online learning platforms and tools, and faculty readiness to conduct online learning.
Only 18% of respondents said their institutions have already invested in additional physical or mental health resources. Just under half report that they are somewhat or very likely to do so in the future.
Asked about the actions already taken in response to the Covid-19 crisis, most answered that they moved the majority of all in-person classes online, suspended international travel for faculty/staff, and Implemented work-remote policies for staff. More than 40% said they invested in emergency response resources and in new, online learning resources.
Remote learning challenges
Student access and engagement are among the largest obstacles to continuing to serve and teach students. A large majority of respondents rate maintaining student engagement (81%) and ensuring student access (69%) as somewhat or very challenging issues for their institution. Another major challenge involves training faculty less familiar with digital delivery.
Resumption of in-person classes
About half of the institutions surveyed operate on an uncertain timeline for resuming in-person classes. In particular, presidents and chancellors at two-year institutions face an uncertain future. About 31% of those polled expect to resume holding in-person classes by Fall Semester 2020.
Short-term student attrition and long-term enrolment drops present obstacles to maintaining stability. About 88% of respondents are somewhat or very concerned about the long-term decline in future student enrolment and just as many worry about the overall financial stability of their institutions. Nearly half are concerned about a possible decline in international student enrolment and a perceived decrease in the value of higher education.
Respondents report needing the most support in navigating financial issues during the Covid-19 crisis. More than half of those polled say they need support for faculty training and development and nearly half need assistance for instructional technology development.
State and federal government support
Respondents primarily cite financial health and planning as their most needed operational support and a financial stimulus package to compensate for losses as their most needed government support.