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Updated: December 25, 2023 Economic Forecast 2024

Higher education 2024 economic forecast: Admissions issues will grow

PHOTO | COURTESY OF WORCESTER POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE AND THE COLLEGE OF THE HOLY CROSS Grace Wang (left), president of Worcester Polytechnic Institute, and Vincent Rougeau, president of the College of the Holy Cross, sign a partnership between the two schools to offer master's degrees programs.

The higher education landscape in Central Massachusetts has seen both peaks and valleys in 2023 and will go into 2024 with work to do to make sure students in need and students on the margins have the same access to education as their more privileged counterparts.

Supreme Court ruling will start to play out

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling largely prohibiting affirmative action in admissions will have a permanent impact on colleges and universities across the country, and schools will have to adjust how they approach recruitment of students to ensure graduating classes for years to come will not be homogenous. It will be a long game.

Financial aid will be a heightened factor

Millions of dollars in financial aid became available to students at public universities and community colleges in Central Massachusetts in November, with more avenues to access funding for part-time students and students whose families were above income cutoffs previously. It’s a signal from the state government that higher education is a priority, and those universities feel confident the funding will be available for students going forward, helping to address dropping enrollment at public universities and community colleges across the region.

Clark-neighborhood tensions will grow

Clark University in Worcerster garnered criticism when its plan to demolish a block of the Main South neighborhood became public, calling into question its commitment to the community. Local business owners and Clark students expressed concern about how the destruction and construction may negatively impact the status quo.

Clark responded by expanding the area of the neighborhood where residents qualify for free tuition, trying to maintain a positive reputation in the neighborhood. Clark will need to reup those efforts to mitigate negative backlash as it builds out its campus footprint into other areas.

Read 2023's top higher education news below.

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