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Allen Koh, the CEO of Cardinal Education, a Bay Area-based education consulting company, told Insider that the coronavirus could change higher education for good. 

He said that in five years, many schools will be bankrupt, and some will be transitioning to shorter bachelor’s programs. 

“I think universities will have to pull out these offerings to survive,” Koh said. “They’re competing against each other.”

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The coronavirus pandemic has temporarily shuttered college campuses around the country, forcing students and faculty to turn to online classes, having semesters without athletics, and limited revenue coming in — but the changes could affect higher education for years to come, one expert says.

Allen Koh, the CEO of Cardinal Education, a Bay Area-based education consulting company, told Insider that in five years, not only will there be fewer schools available to students, but many programs will likely be shorter.

“You’re going to see many more three-year undergraduate programs,” he said. “Schools will come up with accelerated programs to save money. That’s just going to be the norm.”

Many European colleges already offer three-year bachelor’s degrees, and the US could be moving in the same direction, Koh said.

“I think universities will have to pull out these offerings to survive,” he added. “They’re competing against each other.”

Mike Reilly, the executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, told Insider that by 2025 there will be “significant downturns” in high school graduates, simply because there are fewer kids in the population of that age group than there are in 2020’s high school graduating class.

As a result, there could be a downturn in college admissions, but Reilly believes education will still hold value to students.

“I think things are pretty fluid right now,” Reilly told Insider. “I think students are resilient and I think they’ll also recognize that when the economy has taken a hit like that, your best leg up to get employed is through education. So I think that’s still is a powerful draw.”

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College admissions experts told Insider earlier this week that many small liberal arts schools and state schools might not survive the pandemic.

The federal government’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act — or CARES Act — allocates nearly $14 billion to help colleges and universities stay afloat during the pandemic, but it might not be enough.

Even big schools are being hit hard. The University of Kentucky said it’s facing a $70 million shortfall in revenue next year. The University of Minnesota said earlier this month that it expected to lose up to $300 million from COVID-19 closures. The University of Michigan forecasted losses up to $1 billion.

Small schools are already closing. The Vermont State College system has closed three campuses permanently, and Franklin University of Ohio announced the closure of its Urbana Branch Campus.

“Five years from now you’re going to see several hundred universities bankrupt,” Koh said of the situation. “There were many universities already in a very precarious financial situation and this is going to put many of them under.”

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