January 15, 2015


Bureaucratic Bloat in Higher Education: Getting Rid of the Middle Men (Randall Smith, January 15th, 2015, Public Discourse)

 In 2012-2014, student loans totaled $248 billion, with federal aid making up roughly $171 billion of that amount. [...]

In the ten years before our current economic collapse, public research universities ramped up spending on lawyers, senior-level administrators, and accountants at nearly twice the rate of expenditures on faculty and instruction. Thus, between 2002 and 2006, while the average tuition at public research universities increased by nearly 27 percent, spending on each student only went up by 1 percent. As an article in Inside Higher Education put it: "Most college students are carrying a greater share of the cost of their education, even as institutions spend less on teaching them . . . tuition hikes have resulted in little if any new spending on classroom instruction."

A recent Goldwater Institute Report shows that schools are creating new administrative positions all the time.

Arizona State University, for example, increased the number of administrators per 100 students by 94 percent [between 1993 and 2007] while actually reducing the number of employees engaged in instruction, research and service by 2 percent. Nearly half of all full-time employees at Arizona State University are administrators.

What do all these new bureaucrats do? Well, according to that same report:

Included in this category are all employees holding titles such as business operations specialists; buyers and purchasing agents; human resources, training, and labor relations specialists; management analysts; meeting and convention planners; miscellaneous business operations specialists; financial specialists; accountants and auditors; budget analysts; financial analysts and advisors; financial examiners; loan counselors and officers; [etc.].

In short, they engage in all manner of activities, none of which has anything to do with teaching. The number of employees engaged in the most traditional faculty support--clerical work, like that of the tried-and-true full-time departmental secretary--has actually been decreasing, even as the number of mid-level bureaucrats to which faculty report has been increasing. America's universities now have "more full-time employees devoted to administration than to instruction, research and service combined."

Posted by at January 15, 2015 4:07 PM

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