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Updated: December 26, 2022 economic forecast 2023

Higher education 2023 economic forecast: Building on new beginnings

Photo/Courtesy of Worcester Polytechnic institute "Grace" Jinliu Wang will start as Worcester Polytechnic Institute's president on April 3.

Top leadership changed at nearly a half dozen Central Massachusetts colleges and universities in 2022. In 2023, leaders can get down to business to address challenges facing students and increase the schools’ presence in the community.


Local colleges have been growing throughout 2022. Clark University in Worcester is constructing its new Center for Media Arts, Computing, and Design. The College of the Holy Cross in Worcester opened the $110-million Prior Performing Arts Center and has been buying up property for student and faculty housing. Worcester Polytechnic Institute announced the next phase of its Gateway Park development. Nichols College in Dudley is building student housing. This expansion will continue into 2023. Perhaps Clark will even tell us what it plans on doing with the long-vacant seven-acre former Diamond Chevrolet site on Park Avenue.

Working for economic development

Area colleges are working to improve the Central Massachusetts economy. Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester and Mount Wachusett Community College in Gardner have been adding programs to fill personnel needs in health care. Colleges are working to train more teachers for the workforce. The College of the Holy Cross and Clark University are training entrepreneurs. WPI has hired a new president who is focused on realizing the innovation on its campus. Fitchburg State University is working to transform Fitchburg’s downtown area. Expect to see new projects from area colleges in 2023 focused on improving their communities through workforce development and helping students to build a life in Central Massachusetts.

Addressing cost

Tuition has been rising for years at colleges and universities, and though some colleges paused hikes during the COVID pandemic, it is still difficult to afford higher education. Rising cost of living in Central Massachusetts exacerbates this problem. Community colleges have seen people cutting back on the number of credits they are taking each semester. People are beginning to question whether it's worth going deeply into debt for a degree. Colleges have begun to cut application fees and increase financial aid for students in need. In 2023, colleges and universities will continue to address the problem of affordability.

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