Weekly Market Update

GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN THREATENS HIGHER EDUCATION

Thursday, January 17, 2019

The ongoing, partial government shutdown's effects on higher education are coming into clearer focus. Due to the shutdown in December, several federal agencies that provide substantial research support for colleges and universities across the country--including the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Department of Agriculture--have not been funded for the remainder of the 2019 fiscal year. For academics whose work is supported by the federal government, the shutdown curtails or prevents communication with the affected agencies and creates uncertainty over the next round of research funding, raising doubts about the status of professors, postdoctoral researchers, and graduate students. Some universities have allowed researchers to continue spending, expecting that already approved expenses will be reimbursed by federal agencies. According to Peter K. Dorhout, Kansas State University's vice president for research, that may work on a short-term basis, "but it's not the kind of thing that can go on for more than 90 days."

In Other News

  • As the first Los Angeles teachers' strike in 30 years extended into its second day, the school district's top official said that the walkout had already cost millions in state funding. Teachers converged downtown for a rally to protest the growth of charter schools, which their union, United Teachers Los Angeles, has blamed for draining funds from the district.
  • Hampshire College announced on Tuesday its intention to merge with another educational institution, citing financial strain that threatens its future. The school is also evaluating whether to admit a freshman class for the fall.
  • The University of Washington is adding another intercollegiate sport with the addition of the new Esports Arena & Gaming Lounge in the school's Husky Union Building. According to a news release on Tuesday, the state-of-the-art, 1,000 square-foot gaming center, set to open this spring, will support both casual and competitive electronic gaming and virtual reality.
  • PG&E announced that it expects to file for bankruptcy by January 29. The bankruptcy would likely result in a default of $17 billion of its bonds, the third largest investment-grade default since 1998.