Adjusting to Student Needs in a Pandemic

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Q: Our campus intends to have first-year and returning undergraduates on campus in the fall. Should we also offer our students a remote learning option if they are nervous about coming to campus?

If your institution is able to stand up solid remote learning opportunities for students in addition to on-campus options, we think this is a great idea. Providing remote learning as an alternative pathway potentially solves a number of problems. It gives students who might be concerned about social distancing and illness the option to start their education without fear and trepidation. It also gives your institution the ability to build a hybrid experience that could ease social distancing for your on-campus experience.

Providing remote learning not only shows students that you are concerned about their well-being, but it also signals that your institution is positioned for the future. If social distancing became necessary due to a resurgence of COVID-19 your institution will be very much prepared. Providing multiple pathways is not without its difficulties, though. You’ll need to communicate the preferred and alternative options effectively to specific market segments of concern. You’ll also have to work through student expectations regarding cost of on-campus versus remote learning. In the end, choosing to provide more than one learning options is about giving students pathways to an education at your institution in extraordinary times.

For our perspective on ways to plan for a fully online experience, see our Insights Report: Reimagining the College Experience in a Pandemic.


Q: Is this a good time for our institution to move forward with a tuition reset for first-time traditional-aged students?

Maybe. It seems like we should be able to say with certainty in a time of such economic calamity that a tuition reset is a grand idea. But as always the answer is “it depends”. On the face of it, students and families are under more economic duress than ever and the cost of higher education is more out of reach than ever. We’re also hearing from clients that discount rates at private institutions are being pushed in order to make enrollments this year. So why not drop the sticker price tuition and fees in order to counteract the declining enrollments we are anticipating in the private sector?

Not so fast. It’s advisable to remember that all pricing changes must be strategic – both in good economic times and in bad. That is, a change in price must have a rationale. It must be accompanied by a fundamental improvement or realignment of the educational offering in the market. And it must be delivered with a comprehensive marketing and communications plan. Otherwise, it’s a meaningless signal in the market.

Having said that, however, if your pricing strategy is at the ready, now might be a great time to make a bold action. The COVID-19 crisis is driving both deep economic change and fundamental changes in the nature of higher education. If your institution has the right answer at the right price, now might be just the right time to shout it from the rooftops.



Eduventures Principal Analyst at ACT | NRCCUA

Tuesday June 25, 2019 at 2PM ET/1PM CT

Most colleges and universities are defined by a physical campus in a fixed location, while online learning knows no geographical bounds. Now that fully online enrollments account for about 15% of all undergraduates, and more than 30% of graduate students, the relationship between school location and student location is changing.

A few schools have used online to become national players with large numbers of students in every state, while most institutions have a predominantly local online student body. But does the future favor national or local online markets? Which strategy—local, national, or both—is in the best interests of different types of schools and different types of students, and should policymakers and taxpayers care? The answers will either reinforce institutional locations and identities as we know them, or advance a completely different relationship between institution, student, and place.

In this webinar, we will review new Eduventures analysis of online higher education market dynamics, and the emerging terms of engagement in the battle for value.

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