Physicist, Startup Founder, Blogger, Dad

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Labor Intensive or Labor Expensive?

New report on higher education costs and staffing trends based on Delta Cost Project data, including IPEDS input. Also discussed at the Chronicle.
... This report looks at long-term employment changes on college and university campuses during the past two decades and examines fluctuations in faculty staffing patterns, growth in administrative positions, and the effects of the recent recession on long-standing employment trends. It goes beyond other studies (Zaback, 2011; Bennett, 2009) to explore the effects of these staffing changes on total compensation, institutional spending patterns, and ultimately tuitions.

The overarching trends show that between 2000 and 2012, the public and private nonprofit higher education workforce grew by 28 percent, more than 50 percent faster than the previous decade. But the proportion of staff to students at public institutions grew slower in the 2000s than in the 1990s because the recent expansion in new positions largely mirrored rising enrollments as the Millennial Generation entered college. By 2012, public research universities and community colleges employed 16 fewer staff per 1,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) students compared with 2000, while the number of staff per student at public master’s and bachelor’s colleges remained unchanged.

... Growth in administrative jobs was widespread across higher education — but creating new professional positions, rather than executive and managerial positions, is what drove the increase. Professional positions (for example, business analysts, human resources staff, and admissions staff) grew twice as fast as executive and managerial positions at public nonresearch institutions between 2000 and 2012, and outpaced enrollment growth.

Colleges and universities have invested in professional jobs that provide noninstructional student services, not just business support. Across all educational sectors, wage and salary expenditures for student services (per FTE staff) were the fastest growing salary expense in many types of institutions between 2002 and 2012.

Part-time faculty/graduate assistants typically account for at least half of the instructional staff in most higher education sectors. Institutions have continued to hire full-time faculty, but at a pace that either equaled or lagged behind student enrollments; these new hires also were likely to fill non-tenure-track positions.

Part-time faculty (and graduate assistants) provided additional capacity at well-funded research universities and private colleges, but replaced new, full-time positions at broadly accessible, public master’s and bachelor’s institutions.

As the ranks of managerial and professional administrative workers grew, the number of faculty and staff per administrator continued to decline. The average number of faculty and staff per administrator declined by roughly 40 percent in most types of four-year colleges and universities between 1990 and 2012, and now averages 2.5 or fewer faculty and staff per administrator.


ben_g said...

Great, we have an inefficient and self-justifying bureaucracy providing a good of questionable quality. Totally not a bubble.

ben_g said...

"The average number of faculty and staff per administrator declined by roughly 40 percent in most types of four-year colleges and universities between 1990 and 2012, and now averages 2.5 or fewer faculty and staff per administrator."

When adjuncts/part-timer professors are taken into account the news isn't as bad as it seems though.

Bobdisqus said...

It has been known for a long time that the correlation between $/student and educational outcome at the K-12 level is very low.

This says things are not good at the college level either.


I suspect outside the confines of the highly selective schools things are not that different than the K-12 correlation rates.

It is a big bubble. Top pay at state schools should be tied to a very small multiple of the state median wage.

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