Apr 27, 2020 - Economy & Business

Brown University president argues that colleges must reopen this fall

Students lounge in the sun at Brown in 2019.
Students lounge in the sun at Brown in 2019. Photo: Lane Turner/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Christina Paxson, the president of Brown University, argues in a New York Times op-ed that reopening college campuses this fall "should be a national priority."

Why it matters: Paxson says university administrators around the country have found that the financial impact of the pandemic has already exceeded the $14 billion set aside for colleges and universities in the coronavirus stimulus package.

What she's saying: "The basic business model for most colleges and universities is simple — tuition comes due twice a year at the beginning of each semester," Paxson writes.

  • "Most colleges and universities are tuition dependent. Remaining closed in the fall means losing as much as half of our revenue."
  • "Institutions should develop public health plans now that build on three basic elements of controlling the spread of infection: test, trace and separate."

Paxson warns that students, especially those from low-income households, face financial psychological barriers when they try to learn remotely.

  • They might not have reliable internet access or private study spaces.
  • "If they can’t come back to campus, some students may choose — or be forced by circumstances — to forgo starting college or delay completing their degrees," she writes.

Go deeper: Coronavirus sends American universities over a cliff

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