Will Colleges and Universities Face a Staffing Shortage This Fall?

By Michael Klazema on 7/14/2020

What will the fall hold for colleges and universities? Across the country, students and families are asking this question, wondering how to plan for September and beyond. While the focus so far has been on whether students will return to campus, a recent New York Times article raised a different question: will professors and faculty be willing to return to campus? If they don’t, where will that leave educational institutions regarding staffing, hiring, and undertaking new academia background checks?

The higher education sector is split regarding what to do in the autumn. The Chronicle of Higher Education, a newspaper focused on college and university affairs, has been tracking details about college plans for the fall semester. Based on announcements from nearly 1,100 institutions, 60 percent are planning for in-person instruction this fall, nine percent are planning for an all-online learning model, and 24 percent have proposed a hybrid of in-person and online instruction. The remaining seven percent are considering their options and waiting to make a decision.

Even at colleges and universities that are planning to return to campus in the fall, students will experience a very different version of campus life. Class sizes will be smaller, dormitories will have reduced occupancies, masks will be mandatory in lecture halls, and temperature checks will be required at the entrances of academic buildings. These are just a few of the precautions that schools are taking to keep their students and faculties safe.

Despite these precautions, many employees of higher education institutions report misgivings about returning to work this fall. The New York Times discussed widespread pushback from professors across the nation, many of whom feel that they are being forced back into the classroom by the administrations of their institution. The faculties at multiple high-profile universities—including Notre Dame, Penn State, and the University of Illinois—have sent petitions to their administrations, asking for the freedom to decide whether to hold their classes in person or virtually.

On average, college professors skew older, often landing in the at-risk age range for coronavirus. Another part of the problem, the Times says, is that several college towns have proven to be COVID-19 hotspots, thanks to students who are going to bars, getting together at parties, and shirking social distancing guidelines. The result is that professors report feeling unsafe going back into classrooms with students, no matter the precautions that their colleges and universities are taking.

At Georgia Tech, administrators have told professors that they can teach remotely, but only if they are 65 or older or have a specific health condition that qualifies them as high-risk. Other colleges and universities might need to onboard new faculty to take over courses if professors are unable or unwilling to teach in person.

At, we can help higher education institutions to undertake these last-minute staffing challenges with thorough academia background checks. From criminal history to education and employment verifications, we offer a wide variety of background screening services to curate an adequate background check solution for your college or university. Contact us today for assistance.

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