A new study on the impacts of rural public colleges has found that the stress of COVID-19 on these institutions’ finances is endangering the economies, healthcare and upward mobility of the communities they serve. UNC Pembroke is featured in the study.
The groundbreaking work from Alliance for Research on Regional Colleges (ARRC), a research collaboration between four universities, shows that the number of low employment counties served by rural public colleges would increase by 50% without the jobs these colleges provide.
ARRC found that of the 118 rural public colleges it examined, most were bracing for state budget cuts, reducing workers’ hours, furloughing employees, freezing vacant positions, and laying-off workers. The study also found that these institutions were often the largest employer in their communities and provided college-educated workers with high-demand jobs despite facing below-average resources.
Given rural communities’ unequal access to broadband, lower educational attainment, and slow economic recovery following recessions, ARRC makes policy recommendations to strengthen the ability of rural public colleges to fulfill their missions.
The full report can be viewed here.