It has been nearly a year since New York University announced it planned to create a study-away campus in the District known as NYU-D.C. The proposal, part of NYU’s 2031 plan for expansion, has been discussed increasingly in recent weeks as community members in New York meet to review the plan. NYU’s plan to build a D.C. campus for its study abroad students poses direct competition for GW and an opportunity for the D.C. Council to address its budgetary issues by taxing schools that are not principally D.C.-based.
NYU is often compared to GW in that both schools are relatively similar in academics, have city-based campuses and use the classic real estate line: location, location, location. But now, NYU has decided to capitalize on the interests of students who want both an NYC experience and a D.C. experience. Whereas before, NYU could offer an urban campus with networking opportunities primarily in New York, it will eventually be able to offer an NYU student-tailored experience in D.C. Prospective students looking to apply to both NYU and GW may be easily swayed by the prospect of learning and networking in both environments.
GW is then presented with the problem of marketing itself as the D.C.-based school with the best resources for prospective students and must act accordingly. NYU’s presence in D.C. will greatly affect the realm of higher education within the city. Therefore, GW could ensure prospective students are fully aware of the advantages of spending more than a semester or two in the nation’s capital. But it may be time for GW to focus more on marketing itself as an institution, rather than primarily relying on the appeal of the D.C. locale.
NYU’s plan also presents the city of D.C. with choices regarding how this new school and city relationship will work. The D.C. Council can relieve budgetary concerns by implementing a tax on universities not principally based in D.C. but operating in the District, such as Pepperdine University and Johns Hopkins University. D.C. could tax operational costs, and these schools could pay based on the number of students studying on their D.C. campuses. The council, however, should avoid taxing real estate, seeing as this could hinder further development.
NYU’s website states that the NYU-D.C. plan will offer its students “a concentrated exposure to national political life and the rich cultural traditions and history of the capital.” Recognizing this increased competition, GW should adjust its D.C.-based selling points to more GW-based selling points. In addition, the D.C. Council needs to realize that studying within the District is a resource that draws more business and could be taxed accordingly. NYU is expected to open its D.C. study-away campus in two years, giving GW and D.C. just enough time to make these changes.
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