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Is Campus Life Back to Normal?

October 6, 2021​

The welcome signs on many campuses this fall had a common message:  Life is getting back to normal despite another fall term taking place in the shadow of the pandemic.  Students can attend in-person career fairs, dorm parties, concerts, drama productions, chapel services, and athletic events.  Yet despite the marked shift from many of last year's virtual events to this year's in-person ones at most residential campuses, life on campus hasn't fully snapped back to 2019's volume of offerings--and some mix of virtual and hybrid events seems like it is here to stay.  The patterns of face-to-face versus virtual events is going to vary from institution to institution and from location to location.  I have been on a number of campuses this fall, all smaller Christian colleges and universities, relative to my consulting activities and it is not nearly as locked down as it was during the 2020-2021 academic year.   However, there are still many of the COVID protocols in place with an abundance of caution being exercised.  It may be some time before institutions can return to their normal patterns of academic and social behavior.

International Students in Canada are Becoming Less Diverse

September 7, 2021

International students who are studying in Canada are becoming less diverse, reports Statistics Canada, which could be problematic for Canada in the long run.  International students are reportedly being drawn to programs that are shorter in length, lower cost, located in Ontario, and focused on fields such as business, management, and public administration.  The report also indicates that Canada is receiving an increasing number of students from the top 10 countries with India leading the way; 68.8 percent of college students and 21.3 percent of university students are coming from India.  The report indicates that these trends go against Ottawa's International Education Strategy, which emphasizes the importance of diversification to ensure that students pursue education in a variety of regions and institutions, come from a variety of international markets, reducing the impact if a country goes into an economic downturn.

DOJ Will Defend Title IX Exemption in LGBTQ+ Student Suite

August 2, 2021

The Department of Justice said in a court filing that it intends to "vigorously" defend an exemption to Title IX that allows religious colleges to discriminate against LGBTQ+ students, the Washington Post reported.  The filing comes as part of a lawsuit filed against the Department of Education filed by a group of LGBTQ+ students affiliated with a variety of Christian colleges.  The students are seeking a determination that the exemption for religious colleges to Title IX, the federal lawsuit prohibits discrimination based on sex and gender, is unconstitutional.  Some LGBTQ+ advocates were disturbed ty the Biden administration's filing in the case.  Other people said the administration had no choice but to defend the law.  They also noted the purpose of the Justice Department's filing, which was to object to  requests from religious colleges to intervene in the lawsuit and defend the exemption on the government's behalf.  Still the Post noted that the Justice Department amended the document the day after it was first filed, removing the world "vigorously" to describe the planned defense while keeping the descriptor "adequate."  The Biden administration also removed the language that said the administration and Christian colleges "share the same 'ultimate objective' which is to uphold the Religious Exemption as it is currently applied."

Colleges Seek to Intervene in Title IX Religious Exemption Suit

June 1, 2021

Three  Christian higher education institutions are petitioning a federal district court to allow them to intervene as defenders in a lawsuit challenging the religious exemption to Title IX,  a nearly 50-year-old law that prohibits sex-based discrimination at federally funded colleges.  More than 30 former or current students at Christian colleges filed the Title IX lawsuit against the Department of Education.  They argue that the exemption to Title IX for religious institutions as it's applied to LGBTQ + students is unconstitutional and has left LGBTQ+ students unprotected in the face of their colleges' discriminatory policies.  The students in the suit attended or sought attendance at one of about two dozen Christian colleges.  These institutions are identified in the suit, but are not parties to it.  Three additional Christian higher education institutions that are not mentioned in the suit--Corban University, William Jessup University, and Phoenix Seminary--filed a motion with the court a few weeks ago asking for the right to intervene in the suit to defend the religious exemption to Title IX.  "Their very existence of Title IX's Religious Exemption is at stake here, yet none of the current parties are religious educational institutions that benefit from this exemption," their motion states.  They add, "The Court should not assess the Religious Exemption's constitutionality without hearing from the very institutions the exemption was designed to protect."   A significant number of Christian higher education institutions (Bible colleges, liberal arts colleges, theological seminaries) have applied for and been granted a Title IX exemption related to sexual orientation and gender identity, but this exemption continues to be challenged.  

 College Health Group Recommends Requiring COVID Vaccines

May 1, 2021

The American College Health Association is recommending that colleges require vaccination against COVID-19 for all students coming to campuses this fall.   

"The American College Health Association (ACHA) recognizes that comprehensive COVID-19 vaccination is the most effective way for institutions of higher education to return to a safe, robust on-campus experience for students this fall semester, 2021,"  the Association said in a statement.  "Therefore, where state law and available resources allow, ACHA recommends COVID-19 vaccination requirements for all on-campus college and university students for fall semester of 2021, in accordance with institution's normal exemption practices, including exemptions for medical contradictions.  This recommendation applies to all students who live on campus and/or participate in on-campus classes, studies, research, or activities.  

In considering whether to mandate COVID-19 vaccines, which are currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration's emergency use authorization process, colleges are grappling with a host of legal and political questions.  As of May 30, more than 180 colleges plan to require students to be vaccinated against COVID-19 this fall, according to a listed maintained by the Chronicle of Higher Education.  However, this by no means represents a large percentage of higher education institutions.   There are approximately 4,200 accredited, degree-granting colleges and universities in the United States.  Currently there are no institutions that are members of the Association for Biblical Higher Education or the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities that are requiring the vaccine for the fall semester, 2021.

Student Financial Aid Need Greater in Second Year of the Pandemic

April 2, 2021

Twenty-eight percent of college students experienced job loss and nearly one-quarter are receiving unemployment benefits as the coronavirus pandemic continues to damage financial security, according to a new survey of 11,000 students published by Course Hero, a course material sharing website.  More than 60 percent of the students surveyed in mid-February said food and rent were their top two financial needs, according to an overview of the survey results.  The finding represents an increase from the Course Hero's COVID-19 Impact Survey from last year, which found that nearly 50 percent of students were in need of money for food and rent.  Students are also in greater needs of funds for technology essentials for online instruction.  About one-quarter of the students said they need help paying for laptops or internet access, compared to nearly 18 percent who said this in March of 2020.  Six percent of those recently surveyed said they have dropped out of college and more than 40 percent reported some "change in plans" for their college education due to the pandemic.

Report:  Students T​hink Value of College Declined

March 1, 2021

Ninety-four percent of college students surveyed believe online classes should cost less than in-person instruction, according to a new report from Barnes & Noble Education.  The report is based upon responses from 1,438 students and provides an outlook on the future of higher education following the coronavirus pandemic.  Nearly half of the students surveyed also said that the value of college has declined as a result of the pandemic.  While nearly al the students surveyed said that the cost of online classes should be reduced, only 43 percent of administrators and 41 percent of faculty members believed it should be, according to the report.  When asked what services should be provided by their colleges and universities, students expressed interest in career planning services (47 percent), student life services such as mental health support (42 percent), and academic support (30 percent).  The survey results indicate that colleges will need to shift their traditional models to be more "outcome-based," providing students with more career preparation for the post-pandemic job market.  "The value of a college degree will become more dependent on its ability to drive post-graduate success."

One-Third of Students Seek Counseling for Pandemic Effects

February 3, 2021

About one-third of students who sought care from their college counseling centers during the second half of 2020 said that the visit was related to the mental health effects of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Center for Collegiate Mental Health, a research group made up of college counseling centers and based at Penn State University.    The Center said that 33 percent of these students indicated they visited their campus center for a mental health issue related to COVID-19 or events linked to the pandemic, while 67 percent sought support for unrelated reasons.   Sixty-five percent of the students said the pandemic has led to some mental health challenges, and 61 percent said it hurt their "motivation and focus."  Sixty percent of the students said the pandemic has caused "loneliness or isolation," and 59 percent said it has negatively affected academics.    "Academic distress appears to be a key driver in seeking mental-health care during during COVID-19, which may represent a broader experience of distress caused by academic worry."  It will be essential for colleges and universities to be attentive, prepared, resourced, and creative to address the ongoing and future challenges encountered by students due to the pandemic, particularly for those who serve in areas of student life.

Fewer International Students at Christian Colleges

January 4, 2021

Embassy and consulate closures, coronavirus-related travel bans, and fewer international flights made it difficult for international students to attend school this past semester.  Total international student enrollment across American higher education dropped by 16 percent, according to a survey of 700 institutions by the  Institute of International Education.  New international student enrollment declined by 43 percent.  Approximately 40,000 international students deferred enrollment to a future term.  The decline was less pronounced at small Christian colleges, but the absence of international students is still straining institutions in major ways.

On average, about 4 percent of students at Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU)-associated schools from outside the United States, according to the most recent data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.  Recruiting more is often a priority.

International students, first and foremost, bring a global perspective to a campus and have an impact on student life.  Finances are a second driver.  Many U.S. colleges are facing challenges in enrolling students from the U.S. leading to revenue losses, and international students sometimes pay more than their U.S. peers.  Christian colleges, however, commit dollars to recruiting and providing financial aid to international students because of the bigger values they feel that international students bring to the campus culture.

College Graduation Rates Remain Flat

December 9, 2020

National graduation rates have plateaued at four-year colleges, and community college rates have decreased, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.  The six-year completion rate for those who started college in 2014 is up by 0.3 percent, bringing it up to 60.1 percent.  The national eight-year completion rate fell by 0.5 percentage points to 61.3 percent--the first decline in years.  Adult graduation rates are generally increasing, but completion rates for traditional-age students are plateauing, and those students made up the majority of the 2014 cohort.  Completion rates for four-year colleges are doing better than those of community colleges.  Community colleges were the only type of institution to see an overall drop, of 0.5 percent, in the six-year completion rate.  Completion rates at four-year public colleges improved by 0.7 percent points, and rates at private four-year colleges improved by 0.2 percent.  It is unlikely that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected this year's six- and eight-year completion rates, the report states.

Re​port: 28% of Co​llege Students Come from Immigrant Families

November 4, 2020

Students from immigrant families accounted for 28 percent of U.S. college students in 2019, up from 20 percent in 2000, according to a new analysis by the Migration Policy Institute commissioned by the President's Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration. The number of students from Immigrant parents--those who were either born abroad or born in the U.S. to immigrant parents-grew at a much faster rate than the number of U.S. born students with U.S. born parents. The analysis does not include international students. Researchers found that the majority (68 percent) of students from immigrant families are U.S. citizens while another 16 percent are naturalized citizens. Immigrants and U.S. born children of immigrants accounted for 85 percent of all Asian Americans and Pacific Islander students and 63 percent of all Latino students.

Students from immigrant families made up 50 percent of all college students in California. States where immigrant students made up a quarter of the college population or more were: Hawaii (40 percent), Nevada (40 percent), Florida (40 percent), New York (39 percent), New Jersey (36 percent), Massachusetts (34 percent), Washington (32 percent), Texas (32 percent), Connecticut (29 percent), Arizona (27 percent), Maryland (27 percent), Virginia (27 percent), Illinois (26 percent), and Oregon (25 percent).

College Enrollments Drop for Fall of 2020

October 1, 2020

Undergraduate enrollments are down by 2.5 percent compared to the fall of 2019, with the biggest losses being at community colleges, where enrollments declined by 7.5 percent, according to preliminary data on fall enrollments from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Although the enrollment declines were the steepest at community colleges, undergraduate enrollment fell at all types of colleges, including private nonprofit four-year colleges (-3.8 percent) and private for-profit four-year colleges (-1.9 percent). The decline was more modest at public four-year colleges (-0.4 percent), although there were differences across public four-year institutions according to location, with rural institutions seeing the biggest decline (-4.0 percent) and urban institutions seeing slight gains (+0.5 percent). The first glimpse of fall enrollment data during the COVID-19 pandemic, and economic recession shows that undergraduate enrollment fell for students of all ethnicities. There were sizable declines in international enrollments at both undergraduate (-11.2 percent) and graduate (-5.0 percent) levels . Total graduate enrollment increased by 3.9 percent.

No Clear Advice on Closing Dorms

September 17, 2020

Top U.S. health experts worry colleges will spread coronavirus if they send students hope, but keeping residence halls open poses its own dangers.  Top medical leaders dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak urged colleges not to close residence halls and send potentially infected students back home.  "That's the worst thing you can do,"  said Dr. Anthony Fauci, echoing the sentiments of Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, and Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  However, this presents its own challenges as college and university leaders look for ways to quarantine students who have tested positive to the virus.  The steps colleges and universities are taking to make sure they are not sending asymptomatic but infected students around their states and the country are as varied as the advice they are getting from local health officials.  The amount of testing being done on campuses also varies greatly.    The time, the money, and the logistical implications are great for all higher education institutions in preventing the spread of this dreadful virus.

Survey: 4 of 5 Students Face Disruption From Virus

Larry McKinney: Posted on Tuesday, May 12, 2020 1:57 PM


MAY 12, 2020

Students whose lives were significantly disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic may change their plans to remain or re-enroll in college. A survey from ReUP Education, a company that helps institutions retain and re-enroll students, found that only one out of five of the 678 students surveyed said they are facing no disruption from the virus. About 40 percent of those who said they are facing major disruptions are either significantly or modestly less likely to re-enroll in college.


COVID-19 Causes Concern For Fall Enrollment

Larry McKinney: Posted on Tuesday, April 28, 2020 1:58 PM


APRIL 28, 2020

As the traditional May 1 college decision day approaches, admissions leaders have been expressing concern that a significant number of students who have paid deposits promising to attend certain institutions will opt out against enrolling because of the coronavirus pandemic. Admissions officers always expect some students who told a college they planned to attend not to enroll. The phenomenon has a name--"summer melt." However, the "summer melt" is expected to be much higher for this particular year.


Canadian Federal Government Announces COVID-19 Aid Package For College Students


APRIL 24, 2020

The Canadian Federal Government has announced a $9 billion aid package for qualifying college students to help them financially weather the storm for the next few months. The benefit will pay students a minimum of $1,250 per month from May-August. Students who earn up to $1,000 per month will still be eligible for the benefit and will be able to volunteer in critical service sectors and receive additional funds.



Larry McKinney: Posted on Thursday, March 19, 2020 4:51 PM


MARCH 19, 2020

I am pleased that the Commission on Accreditation for the Association for Biblical Higher Education, the organization with whom I relate most closely in my consulting, is working with its member institutions because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most member institutions have suspended face-to-face instruction and are switching to online education for the remainder of the semester due to the threat of community spread of coronavirus. While member institutions are normally required to receive approval from the Commission on Accreditation if they offer 50 percent or more of a program via distance education, the COA supports their efforts to pursue a reasonable alternative to maintain the highest possible quality of education for their students during this emergency even if the action temporarily exceeds normal policy provisions.


Coronavirus Impacts International Programs Outside China

Larry J. McKinney: Posted on Wednesday, February 26, 2020 2:35 PM


FEBRUARY 26, 2020

American colleges and universities are making changes in international programs in Italy, South Korea and elsewhere as the coronavirus spreads globally. Institutions are suspending operations and evacuating students, moving classes online, or warning students not to travel internationally as the global spread of the the new coronavirus begins to impact international programs in countries outside of China, where the virus first originated.


Bachelor's Degrees at Community Colleges

Larry J. McKinney: Posted on Monday, January 20, 2020 12:01 PM


JANUARY 20, 2020

More community colleges are offering bachelor's degrees, according to Community College Research Initiatives at the University of Washington. But how they are being implemented varies across the country. Twenty-three states now allow public two-year institutions to confer bachelor's degrees, but to varying degrees. Some states allow all two-year institutions to confer bachelor's degrees, while others allow some but not all, limiting the ability to confer degrees to certain institutions.


Fall Enrollments Still on the Decline

Larry J. McKinney: Posted on Thursday, December 19, 2019 3:40 PM


DECEMBER 19, 2019

Higher education enrollments for the Fall of 2019 declined for the eighth consecutive year, finds the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Overall enrollments dropped by 1.3 percent this Fall, more than 231,000 students to 17.9 million students. This was the case for all kinds of institutions: public four-years, public two-years, private non-profit four-years, and private for-profit four-years. Fifteen states, particularly in the South and West, saw enrollment increases.


The Greatest Story Ever Told

Larry McKinney: Posted on Tuesday, November 26, 2019 12:45 PM


November 26, 2019

It is beautifully described as "the greatest story ever told." It is most concisely expressed in the greatest statement ever made--John 3:16. No event in human history deserves or requires the use of as many superlatives as the birth of Jesus Christ. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

Christmas and giving are inseparable, for God established the pattern when he gave the gift of His one and only son who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and was born of a virgin.


Christian Higher Education Month

Larry J. McKinney: Posted on Monday, October 28, 2019 11:43 AM


OCTOBER 28, 2019

In 2003, the United States House of Representatives passed a resolution honoring October as Christian Higher Education Month. While 16 years have passed since this resolution was introduced, October still remains an important month as we have the opportunity to recognize hundreds of colleges and universities that are committed to Christ-centered education. I had the privilege of working with three such institutions in my career, all of which are associated with the Association for Biblical Higher Education and/or the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, and continue to develop Christian leaders for the 21st Century who can think, live, and serve effectively in the Church and the world.


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