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September 05, 2013

Confronted with shifting demographics and rising operating costs, presidents of small New England colleges say there will be a shakeout in the years ahead, according to a new survey.

This summer, the New England Board of Higher Education conducted a survey of presidents and a high percentage of them agree: their schools ought to consider different models of education to compete successfully in the future.

Jay Halford, a former dean of Boston University’s Metropolitan College, led the survey. Halford said New England colleges face an unsettling future in which they will need to articulate their case for an on-campus education to a concerned, increasingly price-conscious public.

Forty-three percent of college presidents surveyed said they didn't think “small New England colleges will remain an important fixture within the academic landscape for many years to come.”

“If your institution does not have a well-defined market niche that is robust, be that market in or out of New England, it is toast,” one respondent wrote candidly.

Still, college presidents at smaller institutions remain optimistic, reporting they’re confident that their institution has the talent and quality to sustain itself.

Moody’s recently issued a report that said more than 40 percent of schools are seeing their enrollments drop off. And at least 300 colleges and universities had vacant seats to start this school year.

confronting cost, college costs, new business models, on campus, higher ed

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