The government needs to ensure equal assistance to overcome the financial pressure.
In countless ways, the epidemic has affected businesses of all sizes across the industry. But its impact on higher education institutions was widespread. Universities were thrown into unknown waters only to navigate educational needs through online mode. Despite the rapid adaptation of e-learning, creating a huge digital divide seemed inevitable because it was only accessible to the economically disadvantaged. This leads to learning disabilities, one of the long-term effects of online learning that has not yet been addressed. The problems experienced by the student community have attracted worldwide attention, where the economic impact on educational institutions has not been verified.
As a result of these financial pressures, many HEIs are struggling to survive. Their high reliance on related revenue like application fee, cafeteria charge, hostel fee etc. Their revenue remains low or almost zero. The lack of various sources of revenue, including very limited access to external funds, has put them at risk in times of crisis. Expenditure, on the other hand, hardly got any respite. With so many reasons to point to revenue, educational institutions have had to face the unforeseen expense of buying a video conferencing platform or creating a digital infrastructure to conduct online classes, assessment and grading purposes. With less revenue, they had to manage their finances for other expenses like faculty salaries, campus maintenance and security. Rising costs for educational institutions leave them with no choice but to leave visiting faculty which puts extreme pressure on permanent staff. Rising academic costs for students will also have serious consequences in the near future, as those who are financially weak can never return to college. This will contribute to a sustainable decline in student enrollment in higher education.
At present, there are a total of 1004 universities in India, including one of the largest higher education structures. But of these, only 310, central and state universities usually receive grants from the government. A large portion consisting of deemed to be or private universities, they receive excessive grants. To overcome the financial pressure, the government needs to ensure equal support by announcing appropriate grants for non-governmental organizations to provide quality education. Now, as universities are slowly opening up their campuses, they are beginning to re-establish their programs because students are demanding more than the current best education system. Universities will need additional financial support to meet educational needs, however, due to the long-term effects of the epidemic on the economy, the government may divert education funds to health and social welfare.
It seems difficult for universities to cope with the huge financial pressures in the short term. But the burden can probably be eased by adopting a more transparent cost statement that appeals to students and their parents, clearly indicating the specific and variable costs involved in running the institution. E-learning can benefit ideal universities in creating an additional revenue stream through online courses along with their academic courses. The corporate sector also needs to support these institutions to control the financial recession by using their CSR funds to support the higher education space. This path can lead higher education institutions towards economic transformation and better focus on their mission.