Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Higher Ed Administrative Bloat

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds links to a review of a book and an academic paper on administrative bloat in higher education at the TaxProf Blog site. There Editor Paul L. Caron quotes from the paper:
The cost of higher education in the United States has risen dramatically in recent years. Numerous explanations have been provided to explain this increase. This paper focuses on one contributing factor: The dramatic growth in the size and expense of non-academic administrators and other university bureaucrats, which has outpaced the growth of expenditures on academic programs.
From the book, he quotes:
Every year, hosts of administrators and staffers are added to college and university payrolls, even as schools claim to be battling budget crises that are forging them to reduce the size of their full-time faculties. As a result, universities are filled with armies of functionaries – vice presidents, associate vice presidents, assistant vice presidents, provosts, associate provosts, assistant provosts, dean, deanlets, deanlings, each commanding staffers and assistants – who, more and more, direct operations of every school.
At COTTonLINE we have dealt with this issue on several occasions. The state university from which the DrsC retired certainly suffers from the above-described malady, in spades. I have my own ideas as to causes.

Empire building is one cause, the more people you supervise the more you should be paid and paid attention to. Another cause is metastasizing federal and state regulations which require elaborate compliance reports.

Don't overlook the need to figure out how to produce significant numbers of graduates from groups which historically have provided few enrollees and even fewer grads. As the population from which grads have normally sprung almost stopped having children, what's left to enroll is that part of the populace which has traditionally had little interest or success in higher ed.

Many so-called 'administrators' exist to recruit non-traditional students, hold their hands, keep them from dropping out, and provide them remediation and study skills. Failure to do so will result in the closure of scores of state campuses and the loss of thousands of higher ed jobs.

The sources cited by TaxProf emphasize the ever-increasing use of low-paid marginally qualified, part-time contract faculty. One motive for doing so is that, lacking tenure, they can be required to set low standards and help the above-mentioned non-traditional students pass courses, an obvious prerequisite to graduation. Those part-timers who won't play the game probably don't get a contract for the next term.

The eventual end result of this trend: the baccalaureate degree will be worth little more than the high school diploma. Necessary? Yes, but entirely insufficient, as is the diploma today.