Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

New England's Education Industry Adjusts to a Decade of Hard Knocks

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

New England's Education Industry Adjusts to a Decade of Hard Knocks

Article excerpt

FORTY-EIGHT years ago, New England College in Henniker, N.H., opened its doors to a brand-new class of 68 students. Created basically because of the GI Bill, the three-year college offered only two majors: business administration and engineering. As time went on, New England College became co-educational and expanded into a four-year liberal arts college including a campus in England.

But hard times hit. Like colleges and universities throughout the region, New England College is feeling the effects of the recent recession. Enrollment is down and financial problems forced the college to lay off 30 percent of its faculty this year, says Paul Daum, New England College history professor.

"We have fared terribly," Mr. Daum says. "Enrollments are down across the board. There are real problems."

Education plays a major role in New England's regional economy, which boasts 178 independent and 83 public institutions of higher education.

But like other industries in the region, the education industry has struggled through six years of recession. Though the economy shows signs of recovery, colleges and universities are still coping with budget gaps, shrinking federal financial aid money, declining enrollments, and a choosier student market.

Some independent schools are restructuring. Early in June, Bennington College in Bennington, Vt., announced plans to reduce tuition, cut staff, and eliminate tenure to help bridge a $1 million deficit. Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass., announced a three-year program last fall to cut $40 million from expenses. By 1997, university staff will be reduced by 400, says Ken Campbell, director of MIT's news office.

Harvard, Yale, and several other independent universities have had to deal with financial difficulties as well.

One problem has been declining enrollments. While public universities have attracted more older, nontraditional students to make up for a decreased population of 18-year-olds, smaller private colleges have not been as successful. …

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