Austin suburb could face economic ruin due to pandemic, says new study

Texas State University’s main campus is an economic engine for San Marcos. As the city’s largest employer, it contributes more than $ 1.1 billion to the local economy annually.

A study released September 6 suggests that San Marcos could face “economic ruin” if the coronavirus pandemic forces the state of Texas to suspend campus activities again. It does exactly one month after a similar study identified the Austin suburb among US cities at financial risk due to COVID-19.

San Marcos ranks 10th on Business Insider’s list of 30 university cities in the United States that could be financially particularly hard if their anchor schools don’t reopen this fall due to the novel coronavirus, or if they have to close again after reopening.

To rank the economic threat posed by the pandemic to pandemic cities, Business Insider looked at student enrollment as a percentage of the population of each city. Based on the data for autumn 2018, data for the 200 colleges and universities with the largest number of graduate or certified students were examined. Business Insider mainly focused on schools offering undergraduate degrees and only included cities with at least 30,000 residents.

In San Marcos, the 33,531 graduate or certificate-seeking students, with the exception of those who only take virtual classes, make up 52.6 percent of the population, according to the study.

The fall semester in the state of Texas began on August 24th. Around 60 percent of the courses are offered in person and around 40 percent online. The Texas Tribune reported last month that some people doubt whether face-to-face teaching in the state of Texas will continue throughout the semester.

“I feel that all plans to reopen the school are based on models of idealized human behavior versus real human behavior,” Nicole Taylor, associate professor of anthropology at Texas State, told the Texas Tribune. “They assume that people obey the rules.”

Two other university cities in Texas are on the list: College Station (Texas A&M University) at number 12 and Huntsville (Sam Houston State University) at number 17.

At College Station, the 53,150 students looking for a degree or certificate make up 45.8 percent of the population, excluding those taking virtual classes, according to Business Insider. In Huntsville, the 16,588 students seeking a degree or certificate make up 39.3 percent of the population, excluding those taking virtual classes only.

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