Domestic, Not-for-Profit, Private education, Public education, Required, Students, University & College - Written by on Friday, August 12, 2011 7:00 - 0 Comments

IBD on College Tuition’s Rise: Blame College Administration Expenses

By Lucius Beebe Memorial Library via Flickr under Creative Commons license

by Paul Glader


College is pricey. In case it isn’t self-evident, here’s the official numbers from the DOE. David Hogberg at Investor’s Business Daily wrote a thoughtful story this week that points out college woes in the United States parallel the Federal Budget and deficit woes. Both have expanding waste lines during tough times. He notes that administrative personnel at colleges have outpaced growth in both faculty and student enrollment in the past two decades. In a word: inefficiency.

An IBD analysis of data from the National Center for Education Statistics shows that from 1989-2009 the number of administrative personnel at four- and two-year institutions grew 84%, from about 543,000 to over 1 million. By contrast, the number of faculty increased 75%, from 824,000 to 1.4 million, while student enrollment grew 51%, from 13.5 million to 20.4 million. The disparity was worse at public universities and colleges, where personnel in administration rose 71%, faculty 58% and student enrollment 40%. Private schools also saw administration and faculty growing faster than student enrollment, although faculties slightly outpaced administration increases. Administrative personnel are employees who are not engaged in instruction and research. The jobs range from university president and provost to accountants, social workers, computer analysts and music directors.

IBD suggests one reason for the incredible growth in staff is the famous inertia of bureaucracy: College departments rarely make cuts and always seek to expand budgets and staff levels, whether they need to or not. This kind of approach doesn’t bode well for colleges that are constantly increasing tuition, facing rising competition from online colleges or losing donors in a tough economy.

How institutions of higher education manage their resources has become a big concern as rising tuition costs and declining productivity are leading some to question the value of a bachelor’s degree. An article in Money magazine two years ago found the cost of tuition rose four times faster than inflation from 1982-2005. That even outpaced the surge in health care costs. While tuition has risen, results haven’t. A Bennett report found that from 1987-2007 the ratio of degrees awarded compared with the number of administrators fell. “Colleges are probably one of the least productive institutions that we have,” he said.


chart: IBD


Full article at IBD


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