Questions? Comments? Contact Stephanie Murphy at 


December 18, 2020

NEBHE’s Policy and Research Year in Review
Link coming soon.

December 4, 2020

State Strategies for COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution
November offered a glimmer of hope for the world in the ongoing battle against COVID-19. Last month, Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna announced the results of late-stage trials for COVID-19 vaccines that are efficacious at rates of 95% and 94%, respectively. Another vaccine developed at Oxford University is less effective—with an efficacy of 70%—but may prove equally valuable because it is significantly cheaper and easier to distribute, which means it could be delivered to lower income nations on a not-for-profit basis. In the U.S., current estimates indicate that the earliest a vaccine will be available for most non-prioritized Americans is April 2021.
State governments and higher education leaders have already begun planning for the arrival of a vaccine. In this newsletter, we reviewed the New England states’ interim plans for vaccine distribution.

November 20, 2020

College Enrollment in the Age of COVID-19: Whether and How Students Have Returned to College During the Pandemic
The coronavirus pandemic has drastically changed how higher education is delivered in New England and across the country. After hundreds of thousands of students were sent home in March and as the pandemic continued unabated, the question arose for AY 2020-21: how would postsecondary institutions provide their students a high caliber of education while at the same time keeping them safe? Some institutions planned to remain completely online, while others planned to offer synchronous and asynchronous instruction, and a significant number made plans to open their campus to a limited number of students. In this new environment, a critical enrollment issue emerged: would students even come back to school? To answer this question, on November 12th, the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center released the latest installment of its Stay Informed series, which tracks outstanding college enrollment trends in near real time.

November 6, 2020

Media Coverage of COVID-19-related Incidents at New England Institutions

According to the Pew Research Center, Americans are immersed in COVID-19 news, and most think the media are covering the pandemic well. In this newsletter, we take a deeper dive into how the media have reported on New England campuses’ COVID-19 outbreaks, their disciplinary action for behavior violations, and on- and off-campus parties.
By November 5th, 11 colleges and universities in New England had received media attention for issues related to COVID-19 on campus. While each of these occurrences must be—and has been—handled seriously by the media, this digest aims to provide a clearer picture of that coverage.

October 23, 2020

An Election Like No Other: Supporting Student Voting in a Contentious Election During a Pandemic
Like everything about 2020, this year’s elections are a little more com­plicated than they used to be due to COVID-19, and, on top of that, there was a lot at stake in the outcomes.
In this newsletter, we share resources on how institutions could handle this year’s elections. In particular, we look at
  1. Ways campuses can support student voting while mitigating their risk of exposure to COVID-19
  2. How to encourage student political engagement and voting in 2020 and beyond.

October 16, 2020

Is now the time to finally fix student transfer?
The pandemic has brought this question into sharp relief for higher education institutions and systems nationwide – spurring a flurry of articles, webinars, and calls to action. 
In 2020, NEBHE began work to establish the New England Independent College Transfer Guarantee to ensure guaranteed acceptance for students graduating from a community college with an associate degree into participating independent nonprofit four-year institutions with no loss of credit. The Guarantee is being developed in three New England states — Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

October 2, 2020

Fall Enrollment & Lost Revenue Projections in New England
Nationwide, higher education fall enrollment at community colleges peaked in 2010 and diminished through 2018. In the public and private not-for-profit four-year sector, by contrast, fall enrollment steadily increased over this same period. Earlier in 2020, analysts projected that enrollment in degree-granting postsecondary institutions would increase 3% through 2028, including at community colleges.
However, those projections were calculated prior to the onset of COVID-19. The consequences of the global health crisis mean all bets are off.
Several New England institutions prepared for significant enrollment drops, but in early fall, we lacked reliable forecasts about whether enrollment would increase — as it normally does during economic downturns — or decline given the public health threat of the virus. In a new data dashboard by the National Student Clearinghouse, preliminary reports indicated that overall undergraduate enrollment declined 2.5% nationwide over last year — however, at the time, the survey currently had a response rate of only 22%, and Maine was the only New England state to have participated. Our own preliminary evidence suggested that New England’s institutions could face up to a 10-15% enrollment decline in fall 2020.
The changes in students’ enrollment patterns in the 2020-21 academic year will have serious consequences for higher education in New England and will deepen the industry’s need for federal assistance. In this newsletter, we offer projections on possible revenue losses for a range of sector-wide enrollment decline scenarios.

September 18, 2020

Peeking Around the Corner: Announcements About the Spring 2021 Semester Begin to Trickle In
As the fall 2020 semester got under way and campuses across New England began adjusting to the “new normal,” many wondered what the near future holds for higher education. The first announcements about campus plans for the spring 2021 semester gave a possible sneak peek at what higher education may look like in the new year.
In terms of course modalities, spring 2021 started shaping up to look very similar to fall 2020: institutions largely stuck to their spring modality. The biggest changes were to academic calendars.

September 4, 2020

Data in the Time of COVID-19: How New England’s Campuses are Monitoring the Spread of the Coronavirus and Promoting Transparency
As many students began returning to New England’s college campuses in early fall, colleges began leveraging data dashboards to monitor the spread of COVID-19 among students and staff and promote transparency. Information published often includes the number of tests performed, positivity rates, number of students in isolation, etc. As the pandemic wears on, these tools continue to be critical in understanding the impact of COVID-19 on higher education in New England.

August 21, 2020

How Have Fall Reopening Plans Evolved in New England?

UNC-Chapel Hill made headlines with their announcement that all undergraduate in-person instruction would suddenly shift to remote learning following a surge of COVID-19 cases on campus.
This news had us wondering: How have fall 2020 reopening plans evolved at New England’s higher education institutions? What are the most common elements of these reopening plans, and what are some standout innovations? This newsletter takes a look a closer look at the region’s emerging and changing reopening plans.

Featured article: “It’s time for a safe return to campus,” by Members of The New England Board of Higher Education,Boston Globe

August 7, 2020 

Resource Spotlight: Leveraging Open Educational Resources (OER) during COVID-19 

Highlights from the week’s newsletter: 

This week’s newsletter focuses on Open Educational Resources which include things like free online textbook options, which helps students who rely on shared resources from the library- a liability in our new COVID world. Allowing students more access to OER helps with cost savings, but could also impede the spread of covid as it reduces the potential of the physical sharing of things like textbooks. 

Learn more about OER here, and read this newsletter to see how NEBHE is working to advocate for further proliferation of these resources. 

We also continue to look at the number of institutions that are changing their teaching modalities. This newsletter reflects the continuing switch to more remote options, as well as tracks things like testing, quarantine, contact tracing, and other such safety measures.

July 24, 2020

Resource Spotlight: How can HEI’s Effectively Encourage Students to Comply with new COVID-19 related Campus Regulations?

Highlights from this week’s newsletter: 

As more and more colleges and universities make the decision to bring students back to  campus in New England, the question remains- how will institutions best ensure that students comply with new rules and regulations to protect the rest of the community when they are used to so much autonomy & social interaction on campus?

Using information from an adolescent psychologist, this newsletter explores the best ways to make sure that students listen to new rules in order to protect themselves and others. These include things like using peer pressure in a positive way to further advocate rule following. 

From an institutional tracking perspective, colleges continue to change to more hybrid/online options, and have begun to implement more solid plans on how they are setting up things like testing, quarantine and contact tracing. 

July 10, 2020

Resource Spotlight: How the New England Job Market has Changed in the Wake of COVID-19

Highlights from this week’s newsletter:

This week’s newsletter explored EMSI’s labor market data, and specifically dives into how the job market in our region has changed in the wake of COVID-19. To explore this data, you can also check out our one-page infographic with the aforementioned data below. 

In terms of how institutions continue to change their plans on going back to school, this newsletter shows that more and more schools continue to change to hybrid/online courses.


See our compilation of EMSI’s data

June 26, 2020

Resource Spotlight: Status of States’ and Institutions’ Plans for COVID-19 Testing

Data Highlights
STATE-LEVEL: The New England states are currently reviewing proposed testing plans. Maine has partnered with IDEXX to increase testing capacity. In Massachusetts, state officials are working to create partnerships spanning government, academia, and the private sector to quickly grow the ability to test and support patients during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
CAMPUS REPOPULATION: Connecticut has the most robust announced plans for repopulating its campuses.
    • Residential campuses: Test all students, faculty, and student-facing staff for infection on arrival, and isolate for 14 days those testing positive; ensure availability of ample capacity to isolate infected students and quarantine close contacts; devise plan to provide food to isolated students. These institutions are looking at repopulation in mid-August to accommodate testing needs.
    • Nonresidential institutions: Where the risks are similar to those of local businesses, these institutions will not need to test students, faculty, and student-facing staff upon reopening.
ONGOING TESTING: In New England, Connecticut is the only state that has announced plans for ongoing testing. When serology tests become more reliable, institutions will need to determine which students are immune and no longer need to be considered vulnerable. The state recommends against daily temperature checks. Residential campuses will need to test students at appropriate intervals throughout the academic year, in accordance with public health guidance.
The University System of New Hampshire is planning to test all students, faculty, staff, and vendor upon return to campus and periodically thereafter.
    • Vermont Technical College is working with Gifford Hospital, which has a grant and can offer free nasopharyngeal testing on campus for out-of-state students.
    • The University of Connecticut is aims to complete and submit its reopening plans to the state by June 30.
    • Maine Maritime Academy plans to test only those who are symptomatic.
    • The Community College System of New Hampshire plans to work with New Hampshire public health officials and local providers to develop a plan for testing and tracing on its campuses.
    • Lasell University in Massachusetts will administer multiple tests according to state guidance, and UMass Medical School will test all employees prior to their arrival.

June 12, 2020

Resource Spotlight: Maguire Associates and NEBHE New England Adult Learner Survey: Uncertainty Around COVID-19

Maguire Associates, in partnership with NEBHE, fielded an online survey of adults without a bachelor’s degree over the age of 25 from across New England. The survey was designed to support NEBHE’s All Learning Counts-New England initiative by collecting information on past experience with and interest in higher education programs, familiarity with prior learning assessment and competency-based education, most desired program features, barriers to achieving a degree, and much more. The timing of the survey also allowed the partner organizations to investigate the impact of COVID-19 on desires for increased education and training, which we highlight in the newsletter.

June 5, 2020

Resource Spotlight: COVID-19-Related Limited Liability Protection for Higher Education

On May 28, NEBHE joined several other higher education associations by co-signing a letter from the American Council on Education to Congress (left), which urges lawmakers to “quickly enact temporary and targeted liability protections related to the COVID-19 pandemic” to protect “higher education institutions and systems, affiliated nonprofits, and healthcare providers and facilities from excessive and speculative lawsuits arising out of the pandemic.”

The U.S. Senate is in the early stages of drafting a bill that would protect individuals and businesses (possibly including higher education institutions) from being held liable for personal injury due to exposure to COVID-19 in connection with the businesses’ services or accommodations. This liability protection would apply only to businesses, services, and accommodations that adhere to government standards and guidance related to COVID-19 exposure. Businesses may be held liable in cases where there is a clear case of gross negligence, willful misconduct, intentional criminal misconduct, or intentional infliction of harm. (No link to the bill has yet been made publicly available.)
COVID-19: Back to Business: Congress Considers Liability Protections and Safety Regulations for Employers, Health Care Workers. A summary by the National Law Review of a May 12 Senate Judiciary Hearing on limited liability protections for businesses.
The state reopening plans for Connecticut and Massachusetts recommend, among other gating conditions, that the state should provide a safe harbor from liability for institutions. While Connecticut’s recommendation suggests that institutions be indemnified via executive order, Massachusetts’ plan does not specify how such protections ought to be granted.
Rep. Jeffrey Roy (D-MA) introduced legislation (HB 4659) that would provide that certain institutions of higher education offering emergency aid be immune from suit and liability during the coronavirus outbreak. The bill has been sent to the Joint Committee on the Judiciary.

May 22, 2020 

Resource Spotlight: COVID-19 and the Future of Work: How Job Opportunities in New England Have Changed

Summary of Data:
NUMBER OF JOB POSTINGS: Every New England state saw a significant drop in job postings in April 2020 compared to April 2019 — ranging from a decline of 20.9% in Massachusetts to 33.5% in Vermont.
OCCUPATIONAL SHIFTS: In every New England state, the top three occupations differed from April 2019 to April 2020. In general, the prevalence of retail-related occupations declined in 2020, and nursing and nursing assistant occupations increased .
TOP EMPLOYERS: The region’s top employers also changed between April 2019 and April 2020. While Uber Technologies, Inc. was a top employer across New England in 2019, it is no longer so in April 2020. Instead, other companies have risen to the top of the list, such as, Inc. , The Home Depot , and CVS Health Corporation .
HEALTHCARE-RELATED JOB POSTINGS: Employment opportunities in healthcare increased in three New England states — Connecticut (+5.3%), Massachusetts (+5.6%), and Rhode Island (+1.6%) — and decreased elsewhere in the region — Maine (-12.5%), New Hampshire (-5.9%), and Vermont (-6.3%). These figures are consistent with the spread of COVID-19 in New England: the states with increased job postings in healthcare are also the states with the highest number of cases of the new coronavirus.
EDUCATION LEVEL: Between April 2019 and April 2020, there was no statistically significant difference in the level of education either required or preferred in job postings across New England. Since these figures remain essentially steady over the period under investigation, we not to include charts with this information in the fact sheets linked above. However, this detail is worth noting because it suggests that the widespread decline in job postings across New England has affected individuals at every educational attainment level. In other words, the job market in general has shrunk since April 2019.
ADVERTISED SALARY: Additionally, there has been no significant change in the median advertised salary of job postings across New England. While there were fewer job opportunities for New England residents in April 2020 compared to April 2019, salary levels largely held steady.
POSTING INTENSITY: Job posting intensity increased minimally from April 2019 to April 2020 but remained within the average range for the region. According to Emsi, posting intensity is the ratio of total to unique (deduplicated) job postings. A higher than average posting intensity can mean that employers are putting more effort than normal into hiring that position. The current ratio indicates that employers are putting average effort toward hiring for open positions.

Promising Practices:

May 15, 2020

Resource Spotlight: Anticipating the Fiscal Implications of COVID-19: Challenges and Opportunities for the Future of Higher Education

According to the resource:
Promising Practices:

May 22, 2020 

Resource Spotlight: Supporting Food and Housing Insecure College Students During COVID-19 and Beyond

Resources from The Hope Center , a research center at Temple University dedicated to studying the complex challenges facing today’s students:

For Students:
For Higher Education Institutions:
Policy Guidance:

Promising Practices:

May 15, 2020

Resource Spotlight: Anticipating the Fiscal Implications of COVID-19: Challenges and Opportunities for the Future of Higher Education

According to the resource:
Promising Practices:

May 8, 2020

Resource Spotlight: State Reopening Plans and Guidance for Repopulating Colleges

      • NEBHE Summary: Overview of New England State Reopening Plans and Higher Education Guidance
      • To date, only Connecticut has issued guidance regarding the reopening of college campuses. On May 6, Gov. Lamont announced the details of a report containing recommendations for a phased reopening of colleges and universities in Connecticut. It is likely that Maine will announce its own plans for higher education soon. Gov. Mills’ Economic Recovery Committee has three higher education leaders, each representing a different sector: private four-year institutions, public four-year institutions, and community colleges. Maine and Connecticut are the only states to have a community college representatives on their advisory committees. Gov. Baker (Massachusetts) has a president of a private college on his reopening advisory board; this board lacks representation from the public sector. Gov. Sununu (New Hampshire) and Gov. Scott (Vermont) lack higher education representation of any kind on their advisory councils. Gov. Raimondo (Rhode Island) does not have a reopening advisory council.
State Reopening Blueprints:
Massachusetts (will be released by May 18)
Economic Impact of Higher Education in New England

Promising Practices:

Compliance Consideration of the Week: New required disclosures relative the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF).

May 1, 2020

Resource Spotlight: Supporting International Students During COVID-19

In AY 2018-19, international students accounted for 9.8% of total postsecondary enrollment at New England’s colleges and universities. The U.S. Department of State estimates that, during this period, these students added approximately $4.3 billion to the region’s economy. Following recent travel restrictions and health advisories due to COVID-19, the American Council on Education forecasts that international student enrollment for the next academic year could drop by as much as 25% – which would translate to a staggering loss of roughly $1 billion to our region’s economy. Even a slight shift in the enrollment of foreign students – who typically pay full tuition – would dramatically impact nearly all higher education institutions in New England, from Ivy League schools to community colleges.

Promising Practices:
Compliance Consideration of the Week: A reminder about disclosing proctoring fees

Apr. 24, 2020

Resource Spotlight: Career Services and Professional Skill Development in COVID-19

Promising Practices:
    • University of Maine System’s Response to COVID-19-Related College Closures
    • Career Training Support Tools
Compliance Consideration of the Week: FERPA in Light of COVID-19

Apr. 17, 2020

Resource Spotlight: Managing Mental and Emotional Health: Addressing the Psychological Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Promising Practices: Mental Health Support Systems for College Students and/or Faculty Coping with COVID-19

Apr. 10, 2020

Resource Spotlight:

Promising Practices:
    • Workforce Training Opportunities for Laid-Off Workers
    • Support for New Program Development in Response to Workforce Shifts

Compliance Consideration of the Week: Checking in on your student complaint process

Apr. 3, 2020

Resource Spotlight:

    • NEBHE Analysis: Projected Impact of the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund on New England HEIs
    • Learning to Teach Online: Resources for Faculty Migrating Traditional Courses to Online Mid-Semester
Promising Practices: Repurposing Existing Resources to Provide Assistance
Compliance Consideration of the Week: Seeking State Authorization for out-of-state Distance Learning

Mar. 27, 2020

Resource Spotlight: H.R. 748, CARES Act (Federal COVID-19 Stimulus Relief Bill)

Promising Practices: Colleges, Organizations Offer Emergency Aid to Students

Compliance Consideration of the Week: Accessibility for Students with Disabilities