the weekly digest from NEJHE and other news from the New England Board of Higher Education
Dec. 2, 2020
In October 2019, NEBHE convened a group of economists and higher education leaders for a meeting at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston to discuss the future of higher education (Preparing for Another Recession?). No one suspected at the time that just months later, a global pandemic would turn the world upside down. Today, the same cost and enrollment challenges highlighted at that meeting persist. But the pandemic amplified the situation and accelerated the timeline. It also has forced the hands of institutions to advance some of the changes that will help sustain them through this crisis and beyond. Ed Cervone explains how Thomas College, where he directs the Center for Innovation and is VP for external partnerships, focuses on affordability, student supports and employability in its pursuit of success.
More from The New England Journal of Higher Education ...

If 2020 were a normal year, the Thanksgiving holiday would have meant family gatherings, big high school football games and spirited homecomings among college students. But this was not a normal year, and many worried these get-togethers could become superspreader events. Part of the reason students disobey COVID-19 rules is that their real needs for in-person connectivity aren't being met during the pandemic, writes education consultant and former Southern Vermont College President Karen Gross. Many students gather and party in ways that violate the COVID-19 protective measures (mask wearing, social distancing, avoiding large indoor congregations). These gatherings have led to: quarantines; stoppage of athletic events; elimination of on-campus in-person learning; changes in scheduling to eradicate vacations or campus departures; and students contracting COVID.
News Around NEBHE

A new brief from NEBHE urges states to ensure that all policies pertaining to prior learning recognition be transparent and accessible, that the prior learning assessment process be affordable for all individuals, and that industry-recognized credentials and other non-credit bearing programs be easily translatable to academic credit. NEBHE released the brief on Monday as part of its "All Learning Counts New England" project in collaboration with Lumina Foundation. The brief serves as an introductory look at the need for expanded recognition of prior learning policies at the state and institutional level to include work and life experience. The brief summarizes existing and exemplary policies from New England states and early adopters across the U.S. It also includes an in-depth look at findings from NEBHE's adult learner survey, conducted in partnership with Maguire Associates.

NEBHE and its partners wrote to members of the U.S. Congress calling for additional urgent action on COVID-19-related relief for higher education students and institutions. NEBHE noted that the 260 public and independent postsecondary institutions in the six New England states are home to more than 1 million students, many who are struggling with reduced incomes or job loss. The letter explained that institutional costs associated with resuming classes this fall were significantly higher than anticipated due to new expenses related to regular virus testing, contact tracing, health monitoring, quarantining, building reconfigurations, expanded health services, intensified cleaning and the ongoing transition to virtual learning. Read NEBHE's full letter here.

Despite the American ideal of education as a "great equalizer," a new NEBHE report finds chronic opportunity gaps in nearly every indicator of equity, diversity and inclusion between New England's Black and Hispanic populations and their white peers. Read NEBHE's report here.

Under the direction of the NEBHE president and board, the Fellow for Faculty Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) will provide vision, leadership and planning in the development and implementation of a new regional strategy to expand faculty diversity at postsecondary institutions throughout New England.

The total number of enrolled international students at New England colleges and universities increased by 2% at all academic levels in academic year 2019-20, according to the 2020 Open Doors Report on International Education Exchange. But preliminary data for AY 2020-21 suggests the total number of international students studying at U.S. universities—whether from within the U.S. or online from abroad—will decrease by 16%, while new international students plunge by 43% over the previous academic year.

NEJHE's Comings and Goings highlights key appointments and job changes in New England higher education and beyond.

Pictured: Jane McBride Gates
Our Webinars

Thursday, December 3, 2020, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. EST

NEBHE and the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) invite higher education trustees, senior executives and faculty to a collaborative virtual workshop addressing critical questions about enrollments, financial sustainability and post-pandemic plans. Although many institutional financial models are under duress, opportunities remain for institutions to transform themselves while preserving and strengthening their mission.

Panelists include:
Ken Knueven, Managing Director, AGB Consulting (moderator)
Michele D. Perkins, President, New England College
Rick Beyer, Senior Fellow and Practice Area Leader for Higher Education Long-Term Strategic Alternatives, AGB Consulting
Michael K. Thomas, President and CEO, New England Board of Higher Education

Tracking Coronavirus
NEBHE's Tracking Coronavirus web resource features an easy-to-use display showing institutions' plans for the fall in light of COVID-19. It also details institutions' healthcare capacities and their proximity to external healthcare resources. Also find links to: COVID-19 News; Governmental Responses, Guidance & Advocacy; Distance Education Resources & Compliance; Institutional Finance Information; and Admissions and Enrollment Information. Please share updates from your institution at:
NEJHE NewsBlast is a summary of NEJHE content and other news around NEBHE prepared weekly by NEJHE Executive Editor John O. Harney and emailed every Wednesday to opinion leaders and practitioners. When responding to NEJHE content, please make sure that your remarks are relevant, courteous and engaging. Individuals are responsible for their comments, which do not represent the opinions of the New England Board of Higher Education. We urge commenters to briefly note their occupational or other interest in the topic at hand. Please refrain from offensive language, personal attacks and distasteful comments or they may be deleted. Comments may not appear immediately. Thank you for staying engaged.
NEJHE NewsBlast is sponsored by
For more information about partnering with NEBHE, click here
or send an email message to our events coordinator Marla Phippen.
Explore more at