A Closer Look at the Great Recession’s Impact on the Higher Education System
Learn how the major economic crisis of 2008 changed the face of higher education programs across the country.
When the recession hit the U.S., it changed the landscape of the entire higher education system. While some of the impacts, such as funding cutbacks and management changes, were immediate; there have also been longer-term changes in how institutions of learning are perceived by both prospective students and state governments.
Changes in Enrollment
As state governments rescinded their funding to public universities, many colleges looked to increased enrolment to provide a more steady source of revenue. Administrators focused their recruiting efforts on international and out-of-state students who would pay more in tuition costs than in-state students. To pique interest, colleges focused on the benefit that they could offer to graduates. For instance, many institutions advertised their degree programs as being specially designed to teach students the skills that they would need to acquire jobs in a competitive market.
These attempts were complicated by the recession’s financial impact on families. While many affected by the financial crisis simply didn’t have enough money to send their children to high-tuition colleges, others who found themselves unemployed returned to college to increase their chances of securing new jobs. Overall, data shows that college enrollment actually increased in the years following the recession, especially in the states that were hit the hardest.
Changes in Revenue Streams
As mentioned above, colleges had to rely on tuition rather than state support to bring in revenue. This forced institutions to analyze their major offerings and introduce new programs that would increase applicant interest. Unfortunately, this also meant that less popular fields of study experienced cuts and, sometimes, complete dissolution.
The study of humanities was particularly affected. As students and parents alike focused on practicality and majors that they felt would yield concrete results, “softer” areas of study became less popular. This belief spurred the increase of students studying in STEM fields and the reduced number of students enrolled in liberal arts, social sciences, and education programs across the nation.
These are just a few of the lasting impact that the 2008 recession had on the U.S.’s higher education system. Looking for a consulting firm with experience working in higher education? Then don’t hesitate to contact the professionals at McKnight Associates, Inc. We are ready to offer you hands-on human resources consulting for colleges, universities, medical centers, and organizations of all sizes.