In the past five years, some 65 public and private nonprofit colleges have closed, merged with other schools or announced plans to close in the coming months, according to Higher Ed Dive, a website that reports on trends in higher education.
A handful of those were faith-based, including the 75-year-old Nebraska Christian College near Omaha, which closed last May due to low enrollment (85 students), and Morthland College in West Frankfort, Illinois, which first offered classes in 2011 and closed in 2018 with approximately 300 students enrolled.
In Birmingham, Southeastern Bible College closed in 2017 due to financial challenges and merged with Piedmont International University (now Carolina University), based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
In 2018, Concordia College Alabama in Selma, a private college affiliated with the Lutheran Church and the only historically Black institution in the Concordia University System, ceased operating, citing years of financial distress and declining enrollment.
Last year, Concordia University in Portland, Oregon, closed, and officials at Concordia College New York announced in January that it will close this summer, working with neighboring Iona College in a “teach-out” arrangement for students. In that announcement, Concordia officials said the pandemic “accelerated” the school’s financial difficulties.
In March 2019, almost a year before COVID-19 forced college campuses to send students home, shift to online classes and recruit future students via virtual tours and Zoom sessions, U.S. News published a story with an ominous title: “The Higher Education Apocalypse.”
The article cited predictions, including those by the late Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen and economist Nathan Grawe, that many more universities will close.
These predictions are based in part, they said, on growing questions about the overall value of a college education.
Drop in births
Prognosticators also point to the significant drop in the U.S. birthrate during the Great Recession. Between 2008 and 2013, an estimated 2.3 million fewer babies were born, and data from the National Center for Health Statistics show the birth rate continuing to trend downward, an average of 1% per year annually since 2014.
Judson College trustees vote to keep school open, read story here.