Can US Universities Continue to Provide Excellent Education and Research?
US universities are slowly opening their doors. While the risk involved is being heavily debated within political circles, there’s another issue immediately present: the new normal of providing education and continuing research.
Global travel restrictions mean that universities are suffering. They’re struggling to attract new talent, attract international students (a big revenue pool) and carry out international research. So how do universities overcome these issues? Let’s delve a little deeper.
- Struggles For US University Education
- The State of US Research in Education
- Can US Universities Implement Both Within Current Financial Constraints?
Struggles For US University Education
In the US, nearly 1,000 academic institutions welcomed students back on August 16th. The move has been widely unplanned on a federal level, with institutions largely left to their own devices when considering how to welcome students back. Some universities are advocating online learning while others are implementing enforced testing three times a week. Overall, the process is experimental at best.
The United States is a unique case, as other countries with similar infection rates, such as Brazil and India are not opening campuses to the same degree. The question is whether US universities can reopen and still deliver the same, if not better, educational offering while dealing with the financial struggles caused by COVID-19.
For example, in California, we’ve seen one of the biggest budget cuts ever implemented for higher education, as the state faces a huge deficit of $54.3 billion. In New York, the university system there expects a budget cut of $8.2 billion. In Colorado, there’s been a $3.1 billion cut to education systems. Similar scenes of budget cuts are being experienced all across the country.
One big issue for US universities is the interruption in the flow of international students coming in to study from abroad. While there has been a steady decrease in these numbers since 2016, the impact of COVID-19 on them is undeniable. While the number of students applying from abroad is yet to be released by the Institute of International Education, we can deduce by the number of F-1 student visas issued this year.
In July 2018, 89.4 thousand student visas were issued. In July of this year, that number had dropped dramatically to only 10.4 thousand. In 2018, international students contributed $45 billion to the US economy as a whole. You may infer that a large part of this would have gone straight to universities and so, they may be losing out on a large amount of revenue as we go into 2021.
Universities are turning to online education to be able to offer courses, but in some cases these are proving to be unpopular, with students not wanting to pay full price for virtual learning. Because of this, it’s possible US universities may have to diversify their offerings in order to provide for an increasingly demanding student base.
The State of US Research in Education
The efficiency and success of research in US education is also a hot topic at the moment. Universities have found they can’t travel abroad because of restrictions and can’t fully generate accurate data when it comes to pursuing research projects online.
There’s been interruptions in both lab and fieldwork within research projects, alongside the associated budget costs that we’ve previously mentioned. Not only that, but with the likelihood of a post-pandemic recession being high, research sponsorships and collaborators may rethink their contractual partnerships, impacting the financial health of research departments.
Universities are trying to determine how best to support remote working while still being able to pursue these research projects. The main problem is generating data on-site and in fieldwork or maintaining an internationally-collaborative team while travel restrictions are in place.
Carrying out this research virtually can only go so far, especially when specific locations guarantee the only means for certain types of research to be carried out. So how do US universities continue to provide excellent education and research opportunities under the current restrictions?
Can US Universities Implement Both Within Current Financial Constraints?
To overcome the constraints caused by COVID-19, the actual solution is to look abroad. Now, this may seem contradictory because of the information we’ve just presented. However, global talent acquisition and mobility is a very real way of maintaining both educational services and research projects.
The 2008 financial crisis was a situation in which adaptation meant survival and the coronavirus pandemic is no different. Universities have been presented with a change in circumstance, of which a certain amount of innovation can be used as a remedy.
So what is that innovation? Professional Employer Organization (PEO) services. These are the types of organizations that allow a higher education institution to make the most of its global presence, maintaining educational output and even growing the employee talent pool.
So how is this achieved? Essentially, a PEO works to manage both talent recruitment, relocation and entity set-up (amongst other key services). Education can be given internationally through the creation of satellite campuses - local entities owned by a university, representing a university, with support in recruitment and set-up by a PEO.
Similarly, research projects can also be maintained. PEOs can act as Employers of Record with a specific country of research interest, aiding with the international hiring process and making sure contracts are compliant with the relevant domestic regulations. This means you can have a research team on-site quickly and efficiently, without suffering from travel restrictions.
With the PEO handling domestic legislative requirements in-country, a university can focus on the more important things; such as research or providing education for young minds. Not only that, but the associated costs of these processes can be reduced by up to 70%.
The best thing universities can do at this point in time is to research and innovate, get up to speed with all avenues open to them in order to keep providing the vital work that they do. To help, we’ve created a useful resource which details potential solutions.
Ensuring Continued Global Success for Higher Education
In this guide, we explore the state of global higher education and how it’s reacted to the COVID-19 pandemic. By delving into university budgets, travel restrictions and other changes and challenges for universities, we can try and develop the solutions.
A potential solution is through working with a PEO, ensuring continued compliance and lower operational costs. To find out more, simply click the link below for your free copy.
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