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🔢 Key Takeaways

  1. The Covid-19 pandemic has raised concerns about the future of higher education and the quality of online and hybrid learning. College presidents discuss solutions for adapting to the changing educational landscape and the need for equitable systems.
  2. Boston University is offering students the option to choose between in-person and remote learning for some of their graduate professional programs, demonstrating the need for flexibility and adaptation during the pandemic while still prioritizing student education and safety.
  3. Universities are offering multiple modes of teaching to cater to diverse needs and comfort levels of students, including synchronous remote instruction, full-immersion on-campus instruction, and asynchronous online instruction, and investing in technology to provide easy access especially to low-income students.
  4. To meet the needs of students facing challenges, universities must offer flexible solutions and embrace technology beyond books. Cost bases must be considered for on-campus and online education, and the financial impact of opting for alternative options is complex.
  5. The pandemic highlights the importance of tuition and fees for universities, with some students considering taking a break or switching to alternative learning options. The future of colleges and universities remains uncertain, with financial challenges exacerbated by the ongoing crisis.
  6. COVID-19 has exposed existing disparities in higher education, with universities facing financial challenges and incoming students with small financial-aid offers experiencing additional difficulties. Collaboration between universities and the federal government is necessary to address these issues and support work-study students.
  7. COVID-19 has caused American universities to incur significant losses due to student housing and dining refunds, online learning, and supporting financially struggling students. Universities are preparing for future financial disruption by enhancing their technological capabilities. The CARES Act has provided some relief, but universities must carefully invest the funds to best support their students and faculty.
  8. University administrators have to make tough decisions to keep students and staff safe while continuing to deliver services. Athletic departments may be affected, and universities with low endowment per student may struggle. However, institutions are committed to meeting students' financial needs and finding creative solutions to navigate the crisis.
  9. BU completed its capital campaign, improved its financial aid for undergraduates, and experienced a surge in demand for its online MBA program due to the pandemic. The university faces challenges balancing its enrollment and tuition fees for its in-person and online MBA programs.
  10. Despite the pandemic's impact on higher education, Boston University remains optimistic about its financial outlook. BU sees success in its deposit season and maintains its focus on providing quality education while staying financially stable.
  11. Universities are working to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by implementing testing and safety protocols while exploring alternative housing options and addressing workforce and enrollment concerns. With strategic planning, students can return to campus safely.
  12. Despite challenges, universities are finding ways to keep residence halls open and safe for students during COVID-19. Engaging young people in tasks like contact tracing can help prevent further spread of the virus. The government can leverage resources to meet this demand. A successful contact tracing app can aid in this effort.
  13. Contact tracing is a complex process that requires proper training and guidelines. While apps may help, detailed analysis is necessary to ensure effectiveness. Perfect testing could make social distancing unnecessary. Protocols are being developed to accommodate faculty and staff at higher risk.
  14. Remote learning has impacted academics differently and some fields require face-to-face instruction. Boston University is implementing safety protocols to allow for in-person learning, while balancing student well-being and quality education.
  15. The Bio Spine curriculum ties high-school and middle-school learning to 12 biology courses, refreshing and teaching previous material. ASU believes in making education available to all and aims to tackle non-financial obstacles for student success.
  16. ASU launched ASU for You to provide equal opportunity for true human potential through universal learning. All learners must be connected to the learning institutions to achieve success. The COVID-19 pandemic can have sociological and cultural impacts, but optimism can help us to come out stronger and better prepared for the future.
  17. As we adapt to remote learning, we're becoming more tech-savvy and flexible. Virtual ceremonies are becoming more common & people are finding new ways to celebrate. This experience is an opportunity for growth and resilience that will positively impact us.

📝 Podcast Notes

College Presidents Discuss Remote Learning and Challenges Faced by Small Colleges During Covid-19 Pandemic

In the new spinoff podcast No Stupid Questions, hosts Angela Duckworth and Stephen J. Dubner ponder the impact of Covid-19 on social conventions and explore various topics with college students and faculty. The uncertainty surrounding the pandemic has sparked questions about the future of higher education, including concerns about tuition costs and whether students are receiving a quality education in online and hybrid classroom settings. Three college presidents join the conversation and discuss their experiences with remote learning and the challenges faced by small colleges. These discussions highlight the need for equitable educational systems and creative solutions to adapt to the changing landscape of education in the age of Covid-19.

Adapting to the New Reality: How Boston University is Balancing Physical and Remote Learning

College executives, including Robert Brown of Boston University, have had to come up with plans to adapt to the new Covid-19 reality. While many universities are planning to physically open in the fall, Brown recognizes the need for flexibility in offering models to accommodate different situations, including international students who cannot return, or domestic students who are hesitant to come to campus. Therefore, Boston University has announced that some of their graduate professional programs will be offered in a concurrent form, taught both in-person and remotely, to allow students to choose the learning environment that suits them best. Ultimately, universities must find a way to balance the essential residential academic community with the challenges of a pandemic, to provide students with the education they need while keeping them safe.

Preparing for Fall Semester: Balancing Flexibility and Accessibility in Higher Education

As universities plan for the fall semester amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, flexibility and accessibility are key considerations. Institutions like Arizona State University have developed multiple teaching and learning modalities, including full-immersion on-campus instruction, synchronous remote instruction, and asynchronous online instruction, to accommodate the diverse needs and comfort levels of students. This approach allows students to seamlessly transition between in-person and remote learning as necessary, ensuring that their education is not interrupted by the pandemic. Additionally, universities that have invested in technology to make education more accessible and flexible, particularly for low-income students, have been better equipped to handle the shift to remote learning. As the pandemic continues to disrupt higher education, flexible and accessible learning models will be integral to ensuring that students can continue to make progress towards their degrees.

Embracing Technology Beyond Books for Successful Remote Learning

Remote learning can be empowering once accepted and universities should embrace technology beyond books to achieve success. With students facing challenges such as delayed travel or health concerns, offering multiple modalities is necessary. Institutions may have to consider different cost bases for on-campus and online education. The financial impact of students opting for alternative options is complex and uncertain. According to a recent survey, a significant fraction of students may choose an alternative option due to the current situation. Universities need to adapt and offer flexible solutions to meet the needs of today's students.

Universities Face Financial Challenges and Uncertainty Amid Covid-19

The financial strain on universities due to Covid-19 emphasizes their dependence on tuition and fees. While some students may choose to take a semester off or attend community college if fall semester is conducted exclusively online, many still want to attend college and move forward with their lives. There is also uncertainty surrounding international students and out-of-state tuition. Universities are preparing for various scenarios, including offering alternative learning options for students who feel uncomfortable attending in-person. However, the virus and efforts to fight it will ultimately determine the future of colleges and universities, many of which were already facing financial challenges before the pandemic.

Higher Education Grapples with Socioeconomic and Health Disparities Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the socioeconomic and health disparities in society, including in higher education. Many universities are anticipating an enrollment drop of up to 20%, creating significant financial challenges. Incoming students with small financial-aid offers may face additional difficulties due to changing family circumstances. Private universities like American University may struggle to meet the needs of first-generation and socioeconomically-challenged students. President Burwell, who has spent most of her career outside of academia, recognizes the need for collaboration between universities and the federal government to address these issues. Universities must also find ways to support work-study students through teleworking, and be prepared to stretch to meet the needs of those who experience financial hardship due to the pandemic.

The financial impact of COVID-19 on American universities

American universities are facing significant financial losses due to COVID-19, with some losing hundreds of millions of dollars. The majority of these losses are due to refunds for student housing and dining. Online learning and supporting financially struggling students also required additional resources. These losses have resulted in concerns about future waves of financial disruption, with international student and out-of-state revenue losses, and a possible decrease in state investment. Universities are trying to prepare for the unknown by enhancing technological capabilities. The CARES Act has provided some relief, with larger universities like ASU receiving the most funding due to their high number of Pell-eligible students. While universities like ASU do not anticipate furloughs, they must carefully consider how to invest the funds to best support their students and faculty.

Balancing Health, Safety, and Financial Concerns in Universities During COVID-19

University administrators must balance health and safety with financial concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic. Options such as salary reductions may be considered, but services must continue to be delivered. Athletic departments, which generate a significant portion of discretionary revenue, may face cancellation or delay of seasons. Universities with large endowments may still struggle financially, particularly if their endowment per student is low. Despite financial hits, some institutions are committed to meeting students' financial needs and are increasing need-based financial aid. Adapting and finding creative solutions will be key for universities to navigate the current crisis.

Boston University's Accomplishments and Challenges for its MBA Programs

Boston University has successfully completed a capital campaign and increased its financial aid amount for undergraduate students. However, it was decided to bring down the reserves. BU's online MBA program is designed for alternative learners, and the initial enrollment target was set at 100 students. Due to the pandemic, there has been a surge in demand, but the university hasn't disclosed the number of actual students enrolled. While the on-campus MBA program costs roughly $80,000 per year, the online program tuition fee is $24,000. With the pandemic, more people are considering online programs, and it may impact the equilibrium of online learning in the long term. BU's in-person MBA program is set to go as planned, but it's too soon to predict its future enrollment.

Boston University Holds Steady in the Face of Economic Uncertainty

Despite the pandemic, Boston University is optimistic about its financial outlook and has seen success in its deposit season. The quality and value of its undergraduate program remains unchanged and parents are eager to invest in their child's education. While BU may not be actively seeking acquisitions, there may be more consolidation and mergers in the higher education industry due to economic pressures. BU did admit slightly more students this year, but not significant enough to strain their housing guarantees. Luck may have played a role in BU's timely launch of an online MBA program, but the school remains focused on providing quality education and maintaining financial stability in the face of uncertainty.

Planning for Fall: Testing and Safety Protocols

As universities plan for the fall amidst the pandemic, testing protocol will be a determining factor in how students will return. The focus is on prevention, detection, and response to ensure safety and manage density, which can contribute to the spread of the virus. Colleges and universities are exploring alternative housing options, considering turning dorms into singles. Some institutions have formed task forces to address concerns about workforce, student enrollment, and health and safety overall. The situation remains uncertain, and it is essential to consider all relevant factors before making any decisions. Challenges remain, but with strategic planning, universities can adapt and devise effective solutions to enable students to return to campus safely.

Universities Keeping Residence Halls Safe Amid Pandemic

Despite challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, some universities have managed to keep their residence halls open and safe for students. However, issues such as social distancing, bathroom use, and possibility of contractionary economy remain a concern. This situation presents an opportunity to engage bright and motivated young people in tasks such as contact tracing, which can be crucial in preventing further spread of the virus. The government can leverage resources such as AmeriCorps and universities to ensure that the unique demand for this service is met. Development of a successful contact tracing app by fall can further aid in this endeavor, making it easier to track and prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Importance of Proper Contact Tracing for Effective COVID-19 Prevention

Contact tracing is a complex process that requires proper training and clear guidelines on appropriate actions based on the proximity to an infected person. While apps may supplement tracing efforts, a detailed level of analysis is needed to ensure their effectiveness. Robert Brown suggests that perfect testing could make social distancing unnecessary, and he hopes to administer thousands of tests with a 24-hour turnaround time at Boston University. The challenge lies in messaging to faculty and staff who are at higher risk, but protocols are being developed to accommodate their needs in the classroom.

Adapting Education during COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the academic world in many ways, particularly in the need for remote or online instruction. However, some fields of study like speech language pathology, physics, family nurse practitioner, and bench research require face-to-face instruction or clinical experience. Institutions like Boston University are planning to facilitate these needs in phases while observing strict protocols to ensure safety. While math is highly adaptable to online instruction, some majors and programs may not be suitable for remote learning. The academic world is threading a needle to ensure that students receive quality education without compromising their well-being, hoping to develop protocols for operating labs, studios, and ensembles in the fall semester.

Arizona State University's Bio Spine Curriculum for Enhanced Learning Outcomes

Arizona State University has developed a 12 course, 36-hour biology curriculum called the Bio Spine, which ties all courses to high-school and middle-school learning, while also refreshing and teaching previous material. This utilization of technology for enhanced learning outcomes can free up energy for students in other areas, leading to more fruitful results. Despite the current job market and economic situation, ASU's optimism is based on their belief that college education should be available to all segments of society. Michael Crow, ASU's president, believes that too many conversations about higher education have been focused on elite families rather than making education available to everyone. Innovation and adaptation are necessary to end the problem of students starting college but not graduating, which is primarily caused by non-financial obstacles.

ASU For You: Addressing Cultural Readiness in Education Amidst the Pandemic

According to ASU President Michael Crow, the lack of cultural readiness is the primary impediment for students' success in college or university models. To address this, ASU launched ASU For You in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, providing curriculum for parents at home, pathways to finish high school, and courses to reposition oneself for a better outcome. Crow believes that equal opportunity for true human potential to be realized across every person is needed through universal learning. All learning institutions need to connect with all learners. Sociological and cultural impacts may arise due to COVID-19, but Crow is optimistic and believes that we will come out of this stronger and better prepared for the future.

Remote Learning: The Ripple Effect on Education and Society

As we adapt to remote learning, we are becoming more tech-savvy and flexible. This experience will change how we communicate and shape information in the classroom, and ultimately impact society as a whole. The educational system serves as an indicator of how society will change. Virtual ceremonies are becoming more common, and the speeches have become more personal and authentic. Despite the disappointment of not being together in person, these events are still cause for celebration. Graduates are being reminded that the best is yet to come, and that they are now part of a wider alumni community. This experience is an opportunity for growth and resilience that will continue to impact us in positive ways.