01 Jun 5 Clever Strategies for Keeping Your University Afloat in the Age of COVID-19
2020 has been a rough year for just about everybody. On top of the cost to health and human life incurred by the global pandemic, the economic cost has dramatically affected the way we make a living. Business owners, employees, independent contractors—almost no one has been spared. Institutions of learning are certainly no exception.
With a second spike and the specter of a total shutdown again on the horizon, many college administrators are wondering what, if anything, they can do to alleviate financial pressure on school budgets. While the specific needs of your school will vary radically depending on where you are located in the country, there are some strategies that you can implement to persevere through financial uncertainty.
Sell Academic Book Collections
Most university libraries are brimming with outdated, rarely-used book collections. Of course, you need not part with your library’s most prized treasures, but if you’re being honest with yourself you know that there are probably several shelves full of books that nobody would miss. With very little effort, you may discover that your library has assets that are valuable to an experienced book buyer.
Cash For Your Books currently partners with over fifty academic libraries nationwide in monetizing gift books, donations, and weeded titles. Your books have value! Not only can we take some of your unneeded collections off your hands, but we will even pay you for donations to your library that you can’t accommodate. We can pick those books up on your behalf, and you will receive a percentage of the retail price. This is an ideal way to raise funds for your library at no cost to you. Contact us for more information.
Double Down on Online Learning
In the age of HD streaming and seamless teleconferencing, a shutdown doesn’t necessarily mean the end of higher education. A new class of students is excited to start classes in the fall, but many are rightfully concerned about their health and safety on campus. Students with preexisting health challenges may not be able to safely attend on-campus classes at all, even in areas where local regulations allow for it. That’s why online classes must be a high priority for colleges everywhere. Distance learning solutions are essential for keeping up enrollment and preventing virus outbreaks on campus. Anything that can be done online should be done online.
Fortunately, most campuses have already invested in learning management systems like Canvas, which can be easily scaled to accommodate online coursework and lectures. It may take some overtime from the IT department, but with a little elbow grease, your institution can accommodate the educational needs of all current and prospective students from a safe distance!
Rent Out Campus Facilities
Worried that your campus is going to look like a ghost town this summer and fall? There may be other ways to monetize empty auditoriums, classrooms, and conference rooms. Some local businesses may not have such spaces at their disposal, and may be willing to rent yours if they are made available. Recent job losses due to COVID-19 have led to a small explosion of entrepreneurial ventures, and some of those new businesses could use an inexpensive incubator for their nascent teams.
One caveat with this strategy is that you need to check your local regulations to ensure that renters are abiding by all social distancing guidelines, including mask and disinfection protocols. Regulations vary by state and even by county, so make sure that neither you nor your renters run afoul of any applicable local restrictions.
Take a Second Look at the Fall Budget
The cost side of the university balance sheet is also tremendously important! Administrators, regents, and directors will need to make some difficult decisions about where to cut. Short of outright layoffs or furloughs, you may consider freezing new hires and promotions in many or most departments. Planned capital investments, renovations, and other campus improvements may need to be canceled or delayed. These measures will probably be temporary, but they may be necessary to enable the school to continue functioning.
Research CARES Act Funding
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law at the end of March. Among the appropriated funds was $3 billion for schools. State governors are authorized to distribute those funds at their discretion. If your institution is hurting, some of these appropriations may be available to help.
Challenges and Opportunities
In times like these, when our backs are at the proverbial wall, we have an opportunity to show the best of ourselves. As Peter Marshall said, “When we long for life without difficulties, [remember] that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.” The challenges of 2020 are real and worth taking seriously, but challenges are often opportunities in disguise. Universities across the country continue to improvise and adapt, and we are proud to help however we can.