On the cover of the July 2021 Journal of Accountancy (a publication of the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants or AICPA) is an illustration of a few multi-colored college graduation caps along with the headline and subtitle: “Education expenses – Expert discusses student loans, savings tips, and making plans in a changing environment.” The cover article, a question-and-answer interview of college planning expert Ross Riskin by senior editor Dave Strausfeld, seems timely given that many college tuition bills are sent out around July 1 each year.
In a recent article “Charting a New Normal,” Inside Higher Ed reporter Lilah Burke provided an interesting contrast of the four-year college plans to return to in-person classes as soon as possible versus community colleges that are not planning to do so.
Perhaps it was Rebecca Natow’s article in The Chronicle of Higher Education Review titled “Why Haven’t More Colleges Closed?”. Maybe it was Allison Salisbury’s article in Forbes titled “Building Equitable Upskilling Programs: It’s Not Degree Vs. Short Credentials – It’s Both.” Also, it could be the hundreds — if not thousands — of articles and books about the pending changes in higher ed that have been written and published over the past two decades. Clearly, the most recent two articles cited triggered my motivation to pen this article.
Campus Technology magazine published an article last week entitled “25 Ed Tech Predictions for 2021.” In this article, Dian Schaffhauser solicited various opinions from education and industry leaders for trend opinions and comments.
A few years ago, I was asked to develop and teach a course on Educational Entrepreneurship to a cohort of doctoral students enrolled in the Executive Doctorate in Higher Education Management program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education. As I constructed the syllabus for the one-semester course, I realized that I needed to find instructional content/materials to provide the students with some knowledge about business models in order to adequately complete the final assignment. That final project was an 8- to 10-page paper outlining in some detail a unique idea to generate revenues or reduce expenses for their institution.
Shortly after EDUCAUSE conducted its survey of higher ed presidents, provosts, Chief Information Officers (CIOs), and Chief Technology Officers (CTOs) but before it published Grajek and Brooks’ Grand Challenges, the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The pandemic caused the closure of most campuses, required students and faculty to learn and teach from home, and impacted the revenue and expense stream of most colleges and universities.
When I saw the headline for The Hechinger Report article, "Analysis: hundreds of colleges and universities show financial warning signs," I thought, “just what we need…another rating system.” To my surprise, authors Sarah Butrymowicz and Pete D’Amato did not develop a new early warning system evaluating the financial stability of colleges and universities. Instead, they utilized the methodology developed by Robert Zemsky, Susan Shaman, and Susan Campbell Baldridge and published in their recent book, The College Stress Test.
In 1997, Forbes Magazine published an article titled "Seeing things as they really are," which was an interview about the future with legendary management professor Dr. Peter F. Drucker. When asked about the future of higher education, Drucker said, "Thirty years from now, the big university campuses will be relics. Universities won't survive. It's as large a change as when we first got the printed book. The college won't survive as a residential institution. Today's buildings are hopelessly unsuited and totally unneeded." Given that his prediction was for 30 years in the future, Dr. Drucker has six more years for something similar to it to occur.