Tuesday, December 22, 2009

College: Everything's Going Up Except Core Faculty

The chart above helps to answer the question "Where does all the tuition go?" (see post below).

The University of Michigan-Flint reflects a national trend that could be described as a gradual but persistent shift away from relying on full-time, tenured or tenure-track, “core faculty” to fulfill an institution's teaching mission, and a trend towards an increase in both full- and part-time lecturers. And at the same time that the number of full-time core faculty shrinks, the number of academic programs have increased significantly at most universties, along with huge increases in full-time adminstrative positions.

In other words, everything is increasing at most universities: students, part-time faculty, full-time lecturers, academic programs, and full-time administrators, and TUITION (adjusted for inflation), except for the number of full-time tenured or tenure-track core faculty.


At 12/22/2009 9:41 AM, Anonymous morganovich said...

3 questions occur to me:

1. what's the difference between a full time lecturer and a core faculty? is it just job security? are lecturers paid less? might we look at this a switch away from a more privileged type of faculty and toward one that is less expensive and needs to be more responsive as they serve at pleasure as opposed to being essentially unfirable? what is it about an increase in full time lecturers that doesn't count as growth in faculty?

2. how much has tuition gone up?

3. how much have scholarships gone up and to what extent has that contributed to the tuition rise (i've seen this create an astounding price spiral at both my former high school and university)

At 12/22/2009 10:18 AM, Anonymous geoih said...

There's been a long standing trend away from tenured professors in all of higher education. Are you saying that higher education is suffering because of this, or are you just speaking up for you own special interest group.

At 12/22/2009 10:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

morganovich, I can answer question 1.

I am a part-time instructor who is at the bottom of the pile--wages and contract only by each semester. Core faculty gets a raise over part-time and a committment on the number of classes they teach per year and a full-year contract (in our case, 11 classes), but still no benefits. Full-time lecturers can be someone who will advance or not to tenure status--they get benefits and job security but not tenure (whatever security is nowadays).

And, yes, colleges are reducing full-time and tenured positions to cut labor costs. Is that surprising?

At 12/22/2009 10:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I should mention "core faculty" means different things at different colleges.

At 12/22/2009 10:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am pretty sure that Dr. Perry is arguing that administration is soaking up all the increases in funds flowing into Universities by increasing their own numbers and by hiring instructors (which are less expensive) instead of tenure track professors (which are a more powerful force against administration) to fill classrooms that are swelling with students.

At 12/22/2009 10:43 AM, Blogger Paul said...

The internet age means it's time to level the traditional university system. Bankrupt states and federal government could save billions while students could have access to the best instructors in the country.

Oh, and how sweet would it be if the legions of lazy, Marxist faculty had to go out into the real world and do something useful like serve me some french fries?

At 12/22/2009 11:20 AM, Anonymous gettingrational said...

At the University of Washington one in five students pays no tuiton through the Husky Promise Program. One of my kids is wait listed for the U Dub and is not a Husky Promise candidate. Thus, he is working and saving along with his mom and dad to pay for future tuition. The Husky Promise guarantees tuition hikes for those who pay -- duh.

At 12/22/2009 11:44 AM, Anonymous gettingrational said...

The best classes at the large public university I attended in the 1970s were taught by professors. The lecuturers were student teachers in my opinion; not well organized or prepared and without the thourough knowledge of the subject they were instructing.
It has to be much worse now and that is regretable.

At 12/22/2009 1:00 PM, Blogger RaplhCramden said...

The market is saying that core faculty cost more than they are worth.

At 12/22/2009 1:34 PM, Anonymous Lyle said...

To most commentors this is just another example of the effects of a Union (guild) Tenured faculty are a perfect example of a union, better still a guild, as they control entry to the guild.
A rational business man as is noted elsewhere would go with the lecturer because there are not all the union work rules associated with tenured faculty.
I agree that universities need a serious productivity enhancement as their productivity is if anything declining. Paul is right about get the best teachers and put them on the web. Using social media questions and discussions can be had as well.
In summary the tenured faculty have the best union there is with the best layoff protection far better than the UAW ever had, since they are more immune from economic downturn than UAW members ever were.

BTW the research arguement does not hold as university research unless the number of grad students per faculty member on a lifetime basis is less than the sum of the number of students not going into research universities +1 the number of folks in research grows exponentially.

Have you ever seen a scientific report that does not say more resources are needed to study x,y,and z unsolved problems. Has any report say we don't need to do so much research in this area, and resources should be reallocated to other areas?

At 12/22/2009 6:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For starters, all researchers say more research is needed because all findings are provisional. Science, unlike other fields, does not have the hubris to assume they found the unshakable truth, just what is true until something better is found - like quantum physics replacing Newtonian physics.

Lecturers are lower paid, have less experience, are frequently less organized because they have fewer resources from the university. They do not participate in department meeting or shared governance. They work without benefits, i.e. no health insurance or 403b. So, they could become a burden to society when they are too old or ill to work.

Universities and colleges are not commodities. In education, qualification DO matter. The other item that is going up that was not mentioned is classroom size. Do you really want your child or grandchild educated by graduate assistant in a class or 150 - 200 students? Will they really be getting the type of educational experience you got? (You did get one, right?)

If we continue to treat education as if it is a turnip, don't be surprised that we are left far behind by societies that actually value it - like India, China, Japan and Europe.

At 12/22/2009 7:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous 6:52,

How do you measure and analyze that one $100,000-a-year professor who is getting ready to leave in a few years teaches better than two $50,000-per-year assistant professors who plan on teaching the rest of their lives?

Remember, you have to convince administrators that are more commonly using a business model for their educational institutions. It’s not just UAW workers that will feel these types of squeezes in the future. Doctors are already at Wal-Mart—will professors be next?

At 12/22/2009 7:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Science, unlike other fields, does not have the hubris to assume they found the unshakable truth ...

Ahhh, global warming?

At 12/22/2009 7:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If we continue to treat education as if it is a turnip, don't be surprised that we are left far behind by societies that actually value it - like India, China, Japan and Europe.

We spend more on education than any other country in the world. We do not, however, get the best outcomes. The "professionals", it seems, are the ones treating education like a "turnip".

At 12/23/2009 8:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In R1 universities, most faculty are measured primarily by incoming grant $ volume. The question is: do administrative personnel substantially help with this primary activity -- keeping the grant money flowing? If the answer is 'yes' then universities are getting the exact result they intended to get.

But a better question is whether grant money leads to better education. My *opinion* is that it does, but I haven't seen anyone study it systematically.

Resource starved individuals, whether Internet enabled or not, can't study anything beyond a cursory level. Engaging in a domain takes time and money. The best people know that and will only go to places where they can get access to it to do their work.

At 12/23/2009 10:21 AM, Blogger Paul said...

"Doctors are already at Wal-Mart—will professors be next?"

With any luck, yes.

At 12/24/2009 2:29 AM, Anonymous Mr Econotarian said...

It should be noted that while "sticker price" tuition is rising, actual per-student tuition paid is not rising at public colleges and rising very slowly at private ones. More price discrimination is going on.

I also think many Universities should consider selling their land and moving to cheaper real estate. And dont take the stadium along....


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