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Is Higher Ed Growing or Shrinking?

Is Higher Ed Growing or Shrinking?

The Chronicle of Higher Education

By Brian O’Leary and Audrey Williams June
May 17, 2024
In the last year, cuts to programs have surfaced at colleges small and large, public and private.
Bradley University, mired in a financial crisis, announced in December that it would cut 15 programs and another five would no longer be offered as majors. At Baldwin Wallace University, two consecutive years of operating in the red pushed the institution to announce in January that it would cut or consolidate 13 programs. And financially struggling Fontbonne University said it would eliminate 21 programs three months before it ultimately announced, in March, its decision to shut down next year.
Public colleges are navigating similar headwinds. West Virginia University eliminated 28 degree programs last year — including many in the humanities — driving months of discussion in higher-ed circles about the future of public higher education. Other public institutions are poised to follow suit, among them St. Cloud State University, whose leaders last week recommended discontinuing roughly one-third of its 136 degree programs and more than half of its 85 minor programs to stem a structural budget deficit. As is common in the wake of such cuts, faculty members are slated to lose their jobs.
The recent incessant drip of program closures suggests an industry in contraction — and in some ways, that’s the case. But even if it’s true now, it’s taking place against a far larger backdrop of growth.
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