Has the pandemic permanently changed higher education?

A person walking outside on campus.
A handful of students walk across the campus of St. John's University in central Minnesota in October 2020.
Kirsti Marohn | MPR News 2020

The pandemic dramatically changed the look and feel of higher education this past year. Students attended classes online and were often asked to stay in their dorms. 

Hundreds of thousands of faculty and staff were furloughed or laid off. Enrollment plummeted. Freshman enrollment alone dropped 13 percent in the fall.

It’s accelerated a cash-flow crisis that many institutions were grappling with even before the pandemic. Could this be the moment higher education makes big changes, permanently? And if so, what might they be?

Tuesday morning, MPR News reporter and guest host Catharine Richert spoke with experts who follow the trends in higher education. Post-pandemic, what will the new normal look like?


  • Bryan Alexander is a futurist, researcher and senior scholar at Georgetown University. His most recent book is, “Academia Next: The Futures of Higher Education.”

  • Mamie Voight is the interim president of the Institute of Higher Education Policy.

To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.

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