America’s higher education institutions need more government support.
According to higher education authorities, American colleges and universities have suffered more financial damage from the coronavirus pandemic than previously expected and are asking the state for help.
In March, higher education institutions received $ 2.9 billion in federal support under the coronavirus relief, emergency relief, and economic security act (CARES).
But aid to educational institutions has already been significantly reduced compared to the 1980s, although over the past 40 years, the cost of education in American Universities has tripled. Universities have significantly increased their spending.
“Over the past few decades, there has been a significant shift in overall funding for higher education from government assistance in the form of grants and subsidies to increased tuition paid by students themselves,” the US Treasury Department reported in 2012.
When the pandemic hit, University budgets lost more than $ 120 billion, “especially in areas such as testing, contact tracing, quarantine, treatment, and educational technology,” according to the letter sent by Ted Mitchell, President of the American Council of education to the US House of Representatives on September 25.
The University of Connecticut (UConn) has spent $ 35 million from its regional campus budgets. It is asking for $ 28 million from the state, which would fill the funding gap in addition to $ 13 million compared to the current fiscal year.
“We know that we have already significantly reduced spending over the past few years, and this additional $ 28 million reduction will hurt the University,” says Scott Jordan, UConn’s chief financial officer and Executive Vice President of administration.
The University of Maryland (UMD) has also been hit hard, as it faces a $ 292 million budget cut in the next fiscal year. Some employees will have their pay cut, but those who earn less than $ 150,000 a year will not face cuts, the student newspaper Diamondback reported.
University President Darryl Pines called the impact of the coronavirus on UMD’s budget “by far the largest financial crisis in the University’s history.”
UMD will also face 5 percent cuts in each academic division and delay renovations to the facilities, Pines wrote in an email addressed to students and staff. According to him, the well-being of the University community is more important than budget cuts.
Dennis Scanlon, a Professor of health policy and administration at Penn State University, analyzed how Universities are coping with the pandemic by several factors, including the death rate, coronavirus incidence, disruptions, and impact on reputation.
While Scanlon believes that employees’ and students’ health undoubtedly matters, it is also important to weigh the costs and benefits of educational institutions.
“No matter how you divide it, there is uncertainty, and there is a trade-off between costs and benefits. This may sound a bit harsh to some, but what I’m really trying to do is weigh up what level of risk is worth taking and what the costs of reducing it are,” says Scanlon.
According to the Professor, universities, and colleges are waiting for additional support from the state.
“I think the big disappointment is the lack of speed with which we receive additional instructions… on the part of health officials of the Federal and state level about what to do,” he says.
Ted Mitchell hopes that the University world will get the necessary funding to support education: this will help create jobs, which will help the economy recover more quickly after the pandemic.
“Our schools train the doctors, nurses, and other workers needed to overcome this unprecedented health crisis and conduct the research needed to produce the necessary vaccines and treatments. Finally, we have 26 million students in our schools,” Mitchell recalled in his letter to Congress.