August 20, 2014

Higher Education - Behind the Trends

Behind Education Costs: Buttress — or Bloat?

Two economists argue that universities adjust costs based on how much they raise, rather than broad economic forces. Schools say they have become more efficient.

Mike Vogel | 6/10/2013

BEHIND THE TRENDS
Is Students’ Education Suffering?

For those who see a tenured professor as the gold standard for higher education, the shrinking tenure-track ranks are troublesome. Benjamin Ginsberg, a Johns Hopkins University political science professor, and economist Robert Martin argue that tenured faculty with a say in how universities deploy resources countervail the power of education bureaucrats, retard administrative bloat and thus help control university costs.

Tenure and tenure-track faculty also are the ones doing research. For an ambitious undergrad looking to volunteer for a research project, fewer tenured faculty is bad news. Tenure also means students will likely find someone still there a few years down the road to write a letter of recommendation.

A contrary view is that students may be better served if having an adjunct means a smaller class. University officials aren’t shy about the budgetary savings that come with adjuncts, instructors and part timers and laud them as among the best classroom teachers on campus. But the officials also say they want to hire more tenure-track and tenure faculty — if they get the money. Florida A&M University interim President Larry Robinson, for instance, says having undergraduates taught by tenured professors is a “key priority.”

UF provost Joseph Glover says a portion of increased state funding will go to hiring tenure-track faculty. Gov. Rick Scott in April signed a bill giving UF and FSU each $15 million to hire leading professors and boost research. And Scott and the Legislature restored the $300-million cut.

 

Tags: Education, Higher Education, Teaching vs. Administration

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