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Highlights from Higher Ed: Vaccine Requirements, Community Colleges, Face-to-Face Fall Learning and Technology

Vaccine Requirements

At least 12 schools will require vaccinations

Duke University has become at least the twelfth U.S. higher ed institution to announce COVID-19 vaccine requirements for students and staff in the fall. However, the new policy will allow exemptions for medical and religious reasons. The decision puts Duke on a list that also includes Rutgers University, the University of Notre Dame, Brown University, Northeastern University, Fort Lewis College, Cornell University, Ithaca College, Nova Southeastern University, Roger Williams University and St. Edwards University. “The prevalence of variants – including two identified by Duke on its own campus a month ago during sequencing work (California B.1.427/B.1.429 and New York B.1.429) – pose additional concern for institution leaders in their planning for the fall.”

Source: University Business

Recruiting Community Colleges’ “lost class”

According to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, Community College enrollment fell by 9.5% since last spring — the steepest decline in the higher ed sector since the pandemic began. “All of the things that COVID did to our country, those things happened to Community College students and their families almost disproportionately,” explains Mercedes Pour, Director of College Access for the Maine Community College system. So how will Community Colleges recover the “lost class” of graduating high school seniors who put their college plans on hold due to the pandemic? Many schools are offering incentives such as free laptops, scholarships and free summer classes to slow the trend. Others are building new facilities along commuter travel paths, helping students who are unsure about online learning access better options and providing support for in-person learning.

Source: Inside Higher Ed 

Most prospective first-year college students prefer face-to-face classes this fall

A new survey from consulting firm Maguire Associates found that a majority of prospective first-year college students, and their parents or guardians, would prefer upcoming fall classes be held fully face-to-face in response to the pandemic’s current status. The study among over 21,000 prospective first-year students, their parents and transfer students also found that all prospective students, and almost 90% of their parents and transfers, would still attend a college that requires masks on campus. Nearly half of transfer students want in-person instruction as well. 

Source:  Higher Ed Dive

Technology issues still hold students back

A recent survey of nearly 8,400 U.S. higher ed students revealed that more than one third (36%) “sometimes, often or always struggled to find an internet connection that met their academic needs.” Among students in “unstable housing situations,” that number is 62%. Overall, 28% of survey respondents reported that issues with their electronic devices — such as being outdated or incompatible with required software — has had an impact on their education. The study’s authors recommend four strategies to overcome such obstacles: increase spending to facilitate better internet access; create lending or rental plans for laptops and other devices; educate faculty about the needs of “under-connected” students and; increase campus tech support to provide wider access.

Source: Campus Technology