3 Reasons Universities Should Change Budget Allocations in a Post-COVID Environment |

With rising dropout rates exacerbated by COVID-19, higher education institutions need to rethink how they allocate funds with a focus on student retention.

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Nicolo Bates is Founder and CEO or TEDU.

Over the past eighteen months, college dropout rates have soared to 40%, making it even more difficult for institutions to maintain high levels of student enrolment. Although COVID-19 has played a major role in the rise of dropouts, the main driver of this trend over the years has been the availability of alternative forms of education that are more accessible and more suitable for students.

As tuition fees continue to soar, the higher education sector has still not fully adapted its infrastructure to meet the new landscape of blended learning. This makes students wonder if the amount they pay for tuition is reflected in the academic support they receive. As universities approach the process of finalizing spring semester budgets, they should consider three reasons to change budget allocations to provide students with more academic support outside of the classroom.

The landscape of education has changed

Recent data shows enrollment fell by about 240,000 undergraduates last fall, down 3.2% from 3.4% last year. If universities do not make significant changes quickly, enrollment will continue to decline year after year. The virtual shift during COVID-19 has revealed the lack of educational and technological support that universities are able to offer their students, faculty and staff.

Although they had to adapt to a new way of life and a new way of learning, many feel that the low amount of tuition reimbursement did not match the learning loss they suffered. – prices remained exponentially high even though students were not receiving the usual in-person academic experience. This left many wondering if the virtual education they were receiving was worth the price. This shift highlighted what was more important to students, their education, rather than the college experience.

This lack of educational support in certain areas, such as tutoring and academic help, has created increased levels of frustration, and universities need to allocate their budgets in a way that reflects student needs. As many campuses offer both in-person and blended courses this year (which is a step in the right direction!), it’s crucial that they continue to improve the academic experience and course changes. lifestyle faced by students in order to combat the remaining implications that the pandemic has caused and the new reality that it has revealed.

If universities are to pursue distance and blended learning approaches, they must adopt new infrastructure to support and facilitate this new learning experience, rather than relying on pre-existing structures designed exclusively for in-person learning. . Students need new ways to access support through new technology platforms and tutoring assistance available to both the student in person and remotely. By making data-driven decisions about budget allocation based on the most pressing needs on campus, universities can demonstrate to students that they care about their needs, resulting in a better sense of confidence and higher enrollment and retention rates.

Opportunity to strengthen academic support

More recently, the Institutional Strengthening Program (SIP) was created for universities to improve student retention rates and experiences in underserved areas. The grant provides an average of $2 million per university to make progress in areas such as academic quality, management, fiscal stability, or any project related to student academic success. This could include new tutoring and tutoring centers, better access to technological learning platforms, free/discounted prices for textbooks and other essential learning supplies.

It is an extremely competitive and highly sought after grant, especially by community colleges. This could be the result of community colleges facing lower post-pandemic enrollment rates than larger universities, with enrollment down 14% from 2019. Recognizing the need to change this, these colleges do everything in their power to improve the academic infrastructure for students with their funding rather than using it to pay for things related to extracurricular activities. Student support infrastructure, such as supplemental teaching, has been shown to be effective in improving student grades in historically challenging courses, improving retention, and improving graduation rates.

The government checks this closely to ensure that the grant is used for efforts that will improve student academic success. By not taking action on their funding allocation, large colleges and universities will also continue to see declining enrollment rates year after year. Using funds to invest in new learning support structures (LSS) will demonstrate that universities value their students and want to ensure they receive the best education possible.

Action plans can maintain school perseverance

Some universities have already started making proactive changes by using the SIP grant to create an action plan. Southeast Missouri State University is known for using funding to increase retention and graduation rates, as this has been identified as one of their significant issues, especially among their first-generation and at-risk student populations. In order to achieve these goals, funds will be allocated to provide program activities that will strengthen academic support and guidance, increase engagement in professional and professional learning experiences, and improve data-driven decision-making for support student success. By following the five-year plan they created, the university is on track to increase completion rates for all students to 60%, in addition to offering career-focused learning in 80% of halls. class and internships and field experiences in 100% of university studies. programs.

Universities that use funds to invest in academic resources invest in the success of their students, which makes them more confident in their decision to pursue higher education. Rather than relying on more funding, it is crucial that universities allocate the funding and resources they already have to help rebuild their academic landscape, following the implications caused by COVID-19, which has impacted meaningful to student life and learning.

I want to empower students to speak up and ask where their universities are using their resources. While multimillion-dollar sports arenas and state-of-the-art facilities can be flashy, exciting, and visually appealing, they don’t benefit students in a way that helps them succeed academically. I want to create a call to action for universities to do better and for students to have their needs met.

Nicolo Bates is the CEO and founder of EdTech company TEDU. Founded in 2016 with a mission to elevate higher education, TEDU partners directly with universities through a conscious business model to improve student grades, retention rates, graduation rates, internships, and placement opportunities while providing the university with valuable real-time data analytics to improve their curriculum and teaching methodology.

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