Thursday, February 4, 2021 | Category: Eduvation Insider
Good morning, and TGIT!
Yes, thank goodness it’s Thursday. I’ve got the pleasure of presenting (virtually) to the board of governors at Sault College tonight, and the board at Saint Mary’s U tomorrow night, so the Insider is going to take a break tomorrow – but I’ll be back in your inbox on Monday morning!
Today, as weather forecasts warn “that old north wind will begin to blow” this weekend, I’m pulling together the latest CdnPSE announcements for “Winter, Spring, Summer [and] Fall,” reporting on financial skies that have “turned dark and full of clouds” for some, on some corporate “friendships” made and some that are “down and troubled,” and a university that is literally asking its diverse communities to “just call… out my name.” (With apologies to Carole King!)
Laurentian’s move into creditor protection this week has dominated much of the news, and this newsletter. (I’ve fielded calls from newspapers I know well, and some I have never heard of before.) The fiscal challenges of higher education institutions are only growing as enrolment pressures drag on…
Lakehead on Solid Ground
Lakehead U felt it necessary, in the wake of Laurentian’s declared insolvency, to reassure the community that its own fiscal position is solid. The 2 northern Ontario institutions are comparable in size, and face many similar challenges, but Lakehead has largely adhered to balanced budgets since 2004, and implemented cost-containment strategies to ensure no deficit, even in this pandemic year. Although Lakehead has more debt, it is mostly the result of capital investments rather than cumulative deficits – and Lakehead has been growing its international student revenues since 2016, despite being the smaller of the two institutions. TBnewswatch
Billions Lost in Australia
Universities Australia reports ~17,300 jobs and ~$1.8B in revenue lost in 2020, and an even bigger $2B impact is projected for 2021 due to continuing border closures and the multi-year impact of missing students. Analysts project universities will also lose an additional $6.4-$7.6B in research funding over the next 5 years, and the education sector is lobbying hard for increases to caps on international arrivals. The government emphasizes that the priority must be bringing home 36,000 Australian citizens stranded overseas, not admitting more international students. PIE News
“We always said universities would face a multi-year hit to their revenues. If an international student didn’t enrol in 2020, the loss would be felt for what would have been their entire three or four years at university.” – Catriona Jackson, CEO, Universities Australia
$20B Lost by 200 US Colleges
The APLU reports that its 199 public research universities have lost $17.7B in revenues since the pandemic began, and spent an additional $3.1B on COVID19 precautions. The $5.7B in emergency relief funding offered so far is insufficient – especially considering that many state legislatures are slashing higher ed grants even more. Colorado cut grants by 58%, Nevada has cut some by 20%, and Missouri by 12%. American higher ed is lobbying the Biden administration for another $97B in pandemic relief funding – but so far he has proposed just $35B. Inside Higher Ed
“While the roll out of COVID19 vaccines is welcome news and public universities are active participants in advancing vaccinations efforts, higher education will continue weathering the impacts of the pandemic well into the summer and possibly into the fall as expenses for safety measures are still necessary and losses mount as campuses are not fully open.” – Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities
As always, the reopening of campuses varies considerably across North America…
Quebec Campuses Reopening
The provincial government in Quebec has been more aggressive than most jurisdictions in Canada about getting K-12 students back into classrooms, and now is encouraging a gradual reopening of university and CEGEP campuses starting next Monday. Premier François Legault says the goal is to allow students back “at least one day a week.” Concordia, which has been operating almost entirely online, expressed concern about the potential for disruption to learning. McGill indicated it will soon offer students the option of some in-person tutorials, labs and lectures. Both institutions emphasized that students will have the option to remain remote. CBC
US Colleges Add F2F Classes
27% of US colleges are offering in-person components this Spring, reports the College Crisis Initiative – particularly smaller and private institutions. (Public universities and community colleges are behaving more like their Canadian counterparts.) About 200 have delayed the start of F2F classes several weeks, starting their Spring terms online, due to high COVID19 infection rates. (Michigan State and uMichigan have lockdowns in place to control the spread of new variant strains.) Many campuses are imposing aggressive testing, and have eliminated Spring Break. NPR
Ontario Stays Online
As K-12 classrooms reopen in Ontario next week, more and more Ontario PSEs are resigning themselves to virtual Spring and Summer courses and convocations…
Carleton U has announced that the Summer 2021 term will be held predominantly online. “Looking further ahead to Fall 2021, we will need a clearer idea of the progress of vaccination programs before we can make informed decisions.” Carleton
Durham College announced yesterday they will deliver Spring/Summer semester in remote/hybrid format. WIL opportunities may be remote, in-person or blended. DC
Spring Convocations at Toronto-area institutions will be held online, according to simultaneous Twitter announcements Tuesday from Centennial College, George Brown College, Humber College, Ryerson U, Sheridan College, Seneca College, and uToronto. Also announced yesterday: McMaster’s spring convocation will be held virtually Jun 14-18, and uWindsor’s virtual convocations will be Jun 7-16.
And yet still, institutions are looking at Fall 2021 more optimistically…
Queen’s U has scheduled on-campus Homecoming celebrations Oct 15 and Oct 29, and a virtual homecoming for Oct 17. Queen’s says its decision on in-person Homecoming events has yet to be made, and they will only proceed “if doing so can be done safely.” Global
St Thomas U is planning for a number of scenarios this Fall, recognizing “factors beyond our control.” The Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Remote Course Delivery will be examining a full range of options in the coming weeks. Senior administration will make its recommendations for Fall term by Apr 30, and a decision will be announced in “May to June.” STU
I can’t resist some name-related news from the past week…
New Names at Carleton…
Carleton U announced yesterday that it will be engaging with its diverse communities to rename 3 main campus buildings in the spirit of inclusion. “We are keenly aware that the names of our buildings – like those on campuses across Canada – are not representative of our community or the current Canadian population,” wrote president Benoit-Antoine Bacon. Carleton will engage Kitigan Zibi, Pikwakanagan and other Algonquin communities in renaming University Centre; Black communities in renaming the Residence Commons; and the Inuit community in renaming the main administrative building, Robertson Hall. Carleton
…But Not at RDC or GPRC?
Back in 2018, Alberta’s Red Deer College and Grande Prairie Regional College announced with much fanfare that they were going to transition to full-fledged universities, and likely change their names. (Certainly RDC said it would become Red Deer U.) But there’s a new government in town, and AvEd Minister Demetrios Nicolaides seems to be signalling that the expensive transformations may not happen. Everything will hinge on the outcome of a McKinsey & Company report that is expected this summer. One of the recommendations is to create “superboards” to oversee multiple institutions, and help eliminate unnecessary redundancies. But since he insists amalgamations are a “no-go,” it looks like institutional names are unlikely to change after all. CBC
There’s been a range of interesting developments in CdnPSE I haven’t had the chance to include lately…
MUN Enrolments are Up
Memorial U reports a +3.9% increase in enrolled students for the Winter semester, an increase of 688 since Winter 2020. Undergrad enrolment rose +6.4%, and graduate enrolment at the Marine Institute rose +27.6%. Part-time enrolments also rose, +66.7% at the Grenfell Campus, and +32% at St John’s. MUN also had record enrolment in the Fall 2020 semester. “Students are looking forward to the future and so are we,” said president Vianne Timmons. MUN Gazette
Rapid Testing at Sault
Sault College plans to start an enhanced COVID19 screening pilot this month, with 40 Panbio antigen tests performed every week on volunteer students from 2 programs that are regularly on campus. The rapid nasal swab tests provide results in 15 minutes, and students who test positive would then take a more definitive PCR test. If the pilot is successful, it could be scaled up to allow a safer return to campus for more students. Sault Star
And on the corporate partnership front, some ups and downs…
uWindsor Partners in the Sky
Last spring, institutions from Australia to Canada considered chartering flights to bring international students from overseas, but border closures forestalled those plans (if high costs didn’t). This month, uWindsor announced a partnership with Air Canada that is a bit more affordable for the institution, and will make flights more affordable for international students. The agreement “will facilitate the flight booking process while offering exclusive promotional rates for our students as they start their educational journey.” uWindsor
Western goes Cold on Navitas
Western U has reportedly abandoned “for the foreseeable future” its negotiations with Navitas to establish an international pathway program, in response to opposition from faculty councils across the university to “outsourcing the crucial work of teaching first-year international undergraduates” and creating “a two-tier workforce.” (Navitas has similar successful and long-running programs at SFU and uManitoba, and recently signed with Ryerson.) UWOFA
Speaking of friends you can call on, last month Brescia UC released a great 90-sec video for National Philanthropy Day…
A Seismic Shift
Brescia UC tackles pandemic realities head-on in this video, to thank donors for their support of the Brescia Emergency Fund, and their “unwavering faith” in students, “to be the post-COVID leaders our world needs.” Nice videography, which feels warm and intimate even though socially distanced. YouTube
As always, thanks for reading! Have a great weekend, and I’ll be back on Monday to “brighten up even the darkest night” – or at least, do my best!
Stay safe and be well,
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