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Educators weigh in on the future of small, private colleges

An April Globe Magazine story caused consternation among some higher-ed officials but clearly reflected deep worry among others.

In an April Globe Magazine story, education writer Jon Marcus sounded an alarm for this area’s small private colleges: Endowments were suffering, admissions were down, and plenty of families were beginning to wonder what their hefty tuition payments got them. “There’s little doubt in my mind,” said one consultant, “that a number of small tuition-dependent private colleges will go out of business in the next 10 years.”

The story caused consternation among some higher-ed officials but clearly reflected deep worry among others. In early September, TheNew England Journal of Higher Education published the survey responses of 35 of the area’s 150 college and university presidents. Only 57 percent agreed with the statement “The small New England college will remain an important fixture within the academic landscape for many years to come.”

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Observed one president, apparently a member of the pessimistic 43 percent: “If your institution does not have a well-defined market niche . . . be that market in or out of New England, it is toast.”

To learn what’s being done to address the challenges, read “Why Some Small Colleges Are in Big Trouble.

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