Researchers
May 26, 2020

Mitigating Stakeholder Expectations During COVID-19

When you’re involved in the financial area of academics during a crisis like COVID-19, the role of “risk management” becomes an entirely new ballgame. With everyone from the CFO to the faculty and students impacted by this pandemic, it’s important to understand how each person has a role in helping minimize the fallout. In higher education, the outcomes that could come from this global issue are unknown, and stakeholders can work together with others to mitigate the results and expectations.
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As wonderful it would be for institutions to focus on academics for the sake of knowledge only, the fact is that finances play a strong role in how the instruction in a school is performed. CFOs and stakeholders must manage risk and budget for everything from the overhead of the buildings to classroom supplies.

On the average, this risk management is consistent. Aside from an occasional move to new standards, new teaching styles, and new technology, the world of academics is rarely shaken at its core. But when a global pandemic occurs, like with COVID-19, everyone is affected.

Stakeholders, students, and everyone in between must prepare for unknown potential outcomes in the midst of a crisis unlike anything ever seen before. By working together, these stakeholder expectations can be mitigated to limit the fallout and keep it from further damaging the academic processes.

Explanation of Risks in Higher Education

COVID-19’s consequences are far-ranging and non-discriminatory. As such, stakeholders must be prepared to handle risks on an enormous scale, including impact on levels like:

●      The inability of domestic students to return to campus education for the current and foreseeable terms. Online courses would have to be created, teachers require training to instruct online curriculum and strategies, and technology would have to be revamped.

At-home students would require further support than the instructors would be able to give, as well. Depending on how this situation is handled, students could choose to disenroll for future terms.

●      International students could be refused entry into the United States based on COVID-19 policies here and their home countries. Student visas have been suspended for many, with no current date for when they will be reinstated. These students would likely disenroll.

●      Tuition refund requests have already begun piling in at many universities. The language of the contracts signed by students and guarantors will help determine the level of damage, with many stakeholders turning to attorneys to thoroughly evaluate their force majeure clauses.

However, the ultimate say in refund responsibilities will likely sit in the hands of the Supreme Court on this matter, leaving stakeholders uncertain of the degree of financial damage.

●      Funding and financial aid will be impacted. Because of the significant level of unemployment and diminished income levels, there may not be enough financial aid available to alleviate the burden of higher education costs.

This would cause students to turn towards government funding to make up the missing pieces, but with so many other critical sectors in the infrastructure needing help, a likely cut in higher education funding could be on the horizon.

A final financial revenue source, fundraising, would then be approached; however, stock market depressions and the uncertainty of the market itself could hinder the willingness of individuals to donate funds.

These risks are faced by the majority of higher education institutions, some to a stronger degree than others. However, by facing the risks clearly and engaging in mitigation strategies, stakeholders can actively work to diminish the effects of these issues and institute plans to navigate future unforeseen national or global crises.

Stakeholder Roles to Reach Out in a Crisis

In any crisis, not just the COVID-19 pandemic, stakeholders are looked up to by others. The expectations of the stakeholders guide the administrative faculty as to how to handle staff, students, and the community.

By working together, stakeholders and faculty set the scene for damage control. Stakeholders should inform administration as to the availability of support and resources, designating specific funds for this. Stakeholders should stay actively engaged with those in the immediate situation, adjusting funding and expectations as necessary. Those at the financial level should also stay in touch with community and government partners with open lines of communication.

Above all else, financial stakeholders must remain patient and calm. Many others are turning to them for guidance and modeling on whether to panic or continue moving forward. All crises must end at some point, and the way the damage is handled at the financial level may determine the institution’s ability to recover gradually, quickly, or not at all.

How Impactio Can Help

During a crisis, it’s important to have peers who are also going through the same thing to turn to for guidance. Impactio offers its users a wide network of fellow experts to communicate with. When you’re ready to reach out to share what works, what doesn’t, and look for others’ ideas, Impactio is there.  

Impactio’s all-in-one platform also allows you to design professional profiles, display your research achievements and contributions to submit to the funding agencies or public sources when you’re ready to move forward.

Just because COVID-19 may have damaged a few parts of the academic world doesn’t mean scholarship has to be part of the fallout. At Impactio, we’re ready to help you through any crisis with a team of support, a network of professionals, and an easy-to-use program that lets you get your work out to its intended target quickly.

Tags COVID-19 Risk Management
Jason Collins
Writer
Jason is a writer for many niche brands with experience “bringing stories to life” for both startups and corporate partners.

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