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ACE study on impact of Covid-19 on US colleges and universities

The American Council on Education (ACE) has published the second part of its survey on Covid-19. This survey analyses college and university presidents’ responses to the challenges caused by the pandemic. The first part of the survey was published in April 2021 and 348 presidents took part.

In total, 244 presidents participated in the second part of this survey. They identified their most pressing concerns; changes in admissions processes and application numbers for autumn 2021; long-term adaptations made to institutional operations; institutional practices to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion; and mental health and well-being.

Presidents were given a list of 20 issues and asked to select up to five they currently view as most pressing. Results showed that almost three-quarters of all presidents (73 %) identified “student mental health” as a pressing issue, followed by “enrollment numbers for summer and/or autumn” and “mental health: faculty and staff”. The seventh most commonly selected pressing issue was international student enrollment, chosen by 26% of all presidents.

Presidents were also asked to report about the effects of COVID-19 on undergraduate applications and admissions processes for autumn 2021 relative to autumn 2019. In regard to international students’ applications, 34% of all presidents reported a noticeable decline in applications for the autumn semester in 2021. International students were among the most commonly selected population among presidents at public four-year (41%) and private four-year (31%) institutions. However, presidents at public two-year institutions most frequently selected low-income students (46%).