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Note: This thread is related to #Coronavirus #COVID19
1/OK, let's talk about the COLLEGE APOCALYPSE.
Coronavirus, with a bit of help from Trump, is going to smash the U.S. university system. And it's going to smash the economic model that has sustained college towns.
2/The first thing that is going to smash colleges is CUTS TO STATE FUNDING.
It's important to realize that much of this devastation already happened in the 2010s. State funding was still way down, many years into the recovery from the Great Recession!
1. The Great Recession dramatically cut state funding for colleges.
2. That funding did not recover afterward.
What do you think coronavirus is going to do? Probably the same. States have a LOT of other stuff they're going to prioritize - like keeping people fed.
4/College is a great long-term investment for a state, but as the Great Recession shows, states don't tend to think long-term in a crisis. And the crisis establishes a new normal.
Maybe Biden can reverse this, with a massive federal bailout of states? Maybe...
5/The second thing that's going to smash colleges is the loss of FOREIGN STUDENTS.
Anyone who has worked at a university knows how important foreign students, and their sky-high tuition payments, have become for university funding.
6/International student enrollment was already dropping BEFORE coronavirus, thanks to Trump administration policies, and possibly thanks to improved opportunities in China.
7/Coronavirus is going to cut off the flow of international students temporarily.
The depression that follows will reduce job opportunities in the U.S., making it a less attractive place to study.
Tensions with China will reduce the flow of students from China.
8/And all the while, Trump will be doing his utmost to make sure the flow of international students does NOT rebound after the pandemic has passed.
9/A third thing that will smash U.S. colleges is LACK OF DEMAND from domestic students.
Again, demand was already faltering BEFORE coronavirus.
11/Meanwhile, the number of white and black students enrolling in college was already falling, and the long-term rise in tuition mostly stopped at the Great Recession, indicating that demand for college was flatlining or declining before coronavirus.
12/Now the coronavirus depression will dramatically reduce parents' ability to pay for their kids' college.
And as my colleague @tylercowen points out, that will probably manifest as a big drop in high-paying out-of-state students at public schools.
13/So three factors that were ALREADY starting to hit colleges will now hit them much harder:
1. State funding cuts
2. International student decreases
3. Falling demand from domestic students
These will combine to produce a College Apocalypse.
14/How will colleges respond to the College Apocalypse?
Many will scramble for tuition-paying units, reducing admissions standards. This will make some money in the short term but perhaps reduce prestige (and thus demand) in the long run.
15/Colleges will cut labor costs.
Many highly paid lecturers and non-tenured profs will be laid off. More classes will be taught by low-paid adjuncts or grad students. Administrator salaries and hiring will be cut. Tenured professorships will be less available.
16/Colleges will cut capital costs.
Fancy new dorms and other facilities will be put on hold. Research budgets will be slashed.
17/But for many colleges, these moves won't be enough. Expensive liberal arts colleges will go out of business.
18/Even worse, middle-ranked state schools, which provide some of the best educational value for money and are a crucial stepping stone into the middle class for lower-income kids, may have to shutter branches.
19/The College Apocalypse will be bad for social mobility, but it will be even worse for the economies of college towns, which have tended to be America's most thriving places over the past four decades.
20/And of course, the College Apocalypse will be devastating for people dreaming of an academic career.
What was already a brutally tough and often disappointing job market will now simply become a fading dream for many, many Americans.
21/And I am less optimistic than @tylercowen about online education's ability to plug the gap in college funding. I don't think students will pay that much for a Zoom class with a Cal State Fullerton watermark on it.
22/In fact, I think there's only one thing that can be done: a massive federal bailout for both public and private schools.
Maybe if Biden wins a solid election victory and Mitch McConnell's power is diminished, this will happen.
23/But unless the federal government rides to the rescue, the Great College Boom that sustained so many careers and so many cities over the past 40 years is now coming to a crashing halt.
And America will be the worse for it.
You can follow @Noahpinion.
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