US colleges financial struggles leads to worker layoffs and scaling back on infrastructure

Worker layoffs have become a measure for most colleges and universities across the US as a means to balance the books. This has affected thousands and kept many in limbo about their job security.

Months after colleges and universities went into lockdown, the financial repercussions of the decisions are starting to be felt across the US. After the colleges and universities were shut down due to coronavirus, many opted to continue with learning through other means such as online education.

However, with no end of the coronavirus crisis in sight, universities are starting to reevaluate their financial health and make decisions that would help them balance the books.

As they noted, online learning transition was resource-intensive and required the acquisition of resources that could be used for online classes. There was also loss of residence fees, which boarding schools used to pay, but with a transition to online learning, and with no one attending on-campus classes, the on-campus residence was deemed unnecessary.

Schools such as Duke University, Harvard University, University of Massachusetts Amherst and Harvey Mudd College decided to do rebates for students’ dining and boarding fees while others opted to keep the money due in order to balance the books.

Worker layoffs across the US colleges and universities

For months now, drastic actions such as worker layoffs have been avoided at all costs, with most colleges and universities preferring furloughing instead of firing. However, it has not been sustainable and now universities are being forced to consider worker layoffs.

This was the situation at the University of Akron in Ohio on July 15th when the president of the faculty union went into a meeting that ended up deciding the face of 178 workers from the school. The decision, as the president explains, was not easy, considering that it was close to 10 percent of the total workforce in the university. However, it was a necessary step if the university were to balance books and keep the university running for everyone else.

The President narrated the tough phone calls he was getting from concerned employees inquiring about their job security.

The University of Akron President Gary L. Miller continued by saying that the university was already in a $65 million deficit for the year, before coronavirus. Coronavirus shutdown dismantled any hope they may have had and they were left with no other choice but to fire the workers.

The case of the University of Akron resonates with many universities across the US, that have implemented some form of salary cuts, furloughing or workers layoff to balance the budget. Infrastructure development, sporting budgets, office supplies and travel have also taken a hit as a result of the lockdowns.


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