Higher Ed in the News: 5/10

Photo by Max Böttinger on Unsplash.

This week on Higher Ed in the News, the state of campus mask mandates and private college finances. You can read last week’s edition of this series here.

Colleges are relaxing mask mandates on campus

Many schools are scaling back mask mandates in light of new guidelines from the CDC, Jeremy Bauer-Wolf reports at Higher Ed Dive. In most cases, masks may only be taken off outdoors and in relative isolation; they must be worn in large groups even outside.

Wolf cited Duke University, Rice University, and Johns Hopkins as schools that are no longer requiring masks outdoors. Some schools are making masks optional indoors, while others are still requiring masks everywhere. 

These policies are changing as colleges and universities are also increasingly requiring coronavirus vaccination. Where a school stands on vaccination ultimately by the fall may also determine where they land on masks on campus.


Private college finances are stable, per Moody’s

Though colleges and universities are dealing with added expenses, enrollment loss, and other financial hits, private colleges have maintained stable finances in the 2020 fiscal year, according to a recent Moody report.

Hallie Busta of Higher Ed Dive notes that the $14 billion in federal relief has been a help, and Moody’s determined that ultimately these schools “‘are flexible enough’ to endure short economic contractions.”

Busta noted that operating revenue fell at half of private institutions. In addition to enrollment losses and tuition discounts, declines in fundraising have also contributed to university budget shortfalls. 

While some have been able to stay stable, others have cut academic departments, conducted layoffs and furloughs, and cut extracurricular programs such as athletic teams. For example, recently the University of Hartford decided to move down from Division 1 to Division 3 athletics.