US students hurt by sudden campus closures

Black and Hispanic students affected most badly in terms of re-enrolment and completion

十一月 15, 2022
Barcelona, Spain, Oct. 12, 2017 A young woman student stops to study on the back steps of the Basilica Santa Maria Del Mar, a beautiful Gothic cathtedral in the El Born neighborhood.
Source: iStock

Tens of thousands of US students were affected by their higher education institution closing without enough notice over a 16-year period, a new report reveals.

Researchers found that college closures had a “damaging” impact on future success, with the most disadvantaged students suffering the most.

The new report released by the US State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO) and the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center (NSCRC) analyses the effects of 467 college closures between July 2004 and June 2020 on student outcomes.

They found that 143,000 students in their sample were affected by closures – with about 100,000 (70 per cent) experiencing their institution closing abruptly.

Abrupt closures – those which do so without adequate notice or a plan to allow students to complete their courses – were associated with worse future outcomes in enrolment and completion.

“Any college closure is damaging to student success, leaving too many learners without a viable path to fulfilling their educational dreams,” said Doug Shapiro, executive director of the NSCRC, the research arm of the National Student Clearinghouse.

“But the extremely poor outcomes for students who experienced abrupt closures are particularly worrisome.”

Less than half of students who experienced a closure subsequently re-enrolled at a post-secondary institution, and of those just 37 per cent went on to earn a credential, researchers found.

Hispanic and black students who faced abrupt closures were even less likely to earn a credential.

The findings also showed that students who re-enrolled elsewhere within four months were much more likely to go on to complete their studies than those who waited longer.

“College closures have a detrimental impact on the enrolment and completion outcomes of all students and are most pronounced when colleges close abruptly without forewarning or student protections,” said Rob Anderson, president of the SHEEO, which serves the executives of state-wide post-secondary education boards.

“The particularly poor outcomes are especially harmful for minoritised students of colour enrolled in the for-profit sector.

“These results reinforce calls for improving state authorisation processes and strengthening the financial monitoring of institutions to prevent, prepare for, and respond to college closures.”

The report – A Dream Derailed? Investigating the Impacts of College Closure on Student Outcomes – says that almost 12,000 campuses across the US closed over the 16-year period.

Of the 467 investigated, almost 80 per cent were private for-profit two-year or four-year institutions, with about 20 per cent from the private non-profit sector.

The primary reason for a closure was a loss of accreditation, which the findings show was often related to financial challenges.

As the analysis ended shortly after the emergence of Covid-19, the report warns that the pandemic has exacerbated the financial challenges institutions face, with increasing numbers requiring drastic action.



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