BOULDER, Colo.—The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on our nation’s education systems, including the nearly 400 public and private colleges and universities in 16 Western states and territories. Prospective students face uncertainty about their academic future in the face of a historic economic downturn.
At WICHE’s biannual meeting, the Commission unanimously approved a resolution recommending that Western states, postsecondary systems, and colleges and universities: provide students — at the undergraduate, graduate and professional levels — with more time to apply for admissions and scholarships; allow special considerations for financial aid; expand student-centered approaches that help students stay in school; and ensure access to supports and technological accommodations for students with disabilities, English-language learners and other vulnerable populations.
“The COVID-19 outbreak should not be an insurmountable barrier preventing students in the West from going to college and achieving their dreams,” said Cam Preus, executive director of the Oregon Community College Association and chair of the WICHE Commission. “Colleges and universities throughout the West will work with students and put their needs and concerns at the forefront.”
The resolution outlines nine recommendations encouraging states, systems, colleges, and universities to:
“Passing this resolution helps send the message that states in the West are united in supporting students at the undergraduate, graduate, and professional levels in continuing and completing their programs during this unprecedented pandemic,” Preus said.
The impact of COVID-19 on the Western region and how help states respond is a priority for the WICHE Commission, which oversees the Western Undergraduate Exchange program and scores of initiatives that help states improve the lives of people across the West through innovation, cooperation, resource sharing, and sound public policy.
“Every state in the region is going the extra mile to ensure that every student in the West finds a path to educational access and success,” said WICHE President Demareé Michelau. “States are working together to ensure that disruptions due to COVID-19 do not adversely affect our students’ ability to obtain a high-quality education in the region.”