The coronavirus impact on enrollment in Ohio public and private colleges and universities

Ohio’s Gov. Mike DeWine recently proposed $110 million in cuts to higher education – amounting to a 3.8% cut to all four-year and two-year state colleges and universities. Although this is slightly better than had been anticipated, before we begin to celebrate it is important to realize the real reckoning is coming next school year. 

All Ohio universities and colleges, both private and public, are facing enormous challenges for the fall.  Administrations and their Boards of Trustees are looking at potentially significant drops in enrollment across the board. Freshman class enrollment has not seen this level of uncertainty since World War II. Parents are reluctant to send their 18-year-olds to attend classes with large numbers of students, live in dormitories, or eat in cafeterias with the threat of the coronavirus still in existence. Additionally, the economic tsunami that has resulted from the coronavirus has families facing an uncertain economic future, which is also negatively affecting enrollment. 

One possible bright spot for the enrollment problem for public universities? Parents are likely to seriously debate the need to pay the high cost of private school tuition, whether in-state or out-of-state, when there are terrific public university options at 40-50% the cost.

The reduction in state funding and the enrollment problem are causing all universities to look at a host of options, including but not limited to:

  1. Consolidation of colleges and programs within the university
  2. Furloughs and layoffs of staff and faculty
  3. Renegotiation of union contracts
  4. Significant cuts to athletic budgets, including cutting of programs
  5. Planning for continuation of remote learning, bringing students back in mass, or a combination thereof
  6. Installation of hand and face sterilization stations in every building on campus
  7. Reduction or elimination of large lecture classes
  8. Remote eating options
  9. Resuming athletic events with no fan participation
  10. What to do with faculty who are over 60, or have underlying conditions that make them vulnerable to the virus that don’t want to return to the classroom
  11. Mental health issues

Many other issues face higher education, and unfortunately, it is changing every day. If you have questions about coronavirus issues facing institutions of higher education, contact the McDonald Hopkins attorney listed below.

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