Belt-tightening not enough as colleges, universities face struggle to survive: report

More than a dozen colleges and universities in New York state will 'perish,' a report said

Despite extensive belt-tightening measures to save money during the coronavirus pandemic, a new analysis reveals that more than a dozen colleges and universities in New York state will “perish,” a report said Tuesday.

Experts predict between 10 percent and 20 percent of higher education institutions will have to make a tough decision within the next 12 months, according to the Boston Business Journal. The loss of revenue from the pandemic has forced colleges, struggling financially even before COVID-19, to plan on less revenue should fewer students stay on campus and pay room and board.

Research by New York University marketing professor Scott Galloway outlines which schools are expected to “perish, struggle, survive or thrive during the coronavirus." In his blog, he lists 437 colleges and universities, segmenting each by tuition, endowment, percentage of international students and other data from the US Department of Education, US News & World Report and Niche.com’s Student Life Scores, the report said.

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The institutions were then divided into additional categories including low endowments and dependence on international student’s tuition and fees, the report said.

Cornell University buildings viewed from McGraw Tower.

Cornell University buildings viewed from McGraw Tower. (iStock)

With the Galloway information, he was able to narrow the field to 90 schools in danger, including five in upstate New York and 14 statewide:

  • Adelphi University
  • Bard College
  • Daemen College
  • Fordham University
  • Hofstra University
  • Long Island University
  • Pace University
  • Sarah Lawrence College
  • Skidmore College
  • St. John’s University
  • St. Lawrence University
  • The New School
  • The Sage Colleges
  • Yeshiva University


His research shows schools like Cornell University and SUNY-Environmental Science and Forestry are expected to “thrive,” while others, like Syracuse University and the University of Rochester will “survive,” according to the analysis.

At Cornell, for example, the college receives an average endowment of $292,416 per full-time student and 10 percent of its students are international. Meanwhile, Syracuse University has a higher vulnerability score because of an average endowment of $69,761 and a student body that’s 14 percent international, the report said.

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However, Galloway’s report was not well received by his peers. For instance, Christopher Ames, president of the Sage Colleges, told the Albany Business Journal that Galloway’s findings were “unsound,” claiming his rankings are “perilous.” 

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Elmore Alexander, dean emeritus of Bridgewater State University’s Ricciardi College of Business, told the Business Journal the schools most likely to struggle or perish had problems before COVID-19.