I’ve written a number of times on this site that administrator bloat in higher education is one of the main causes of the lack of tenure-track positions for professors. An article in the weekend edition of the New York Times entitled The Real Reason College Costs So Much largely comes to the same conclusion. This is a great read that succinctly outlines the problems of university budgets.
Paul F. Campos first explodes the myth that the contraction in tenure-track jobs is a result of the lack of state funding:
Once upon a time in America, baby boomers paid for college with the money they made from their summer jobs. Then, over the course of the next few decades, public funding for higher education was slashed. These radical cuts forced universities to raise tuition year after year, which in turn forced the millennial generation to take on crushing educational debt loads, and everyone lived unhappily ever after.
This is the story college administrators like to tell when they’re asked to explain why, over the past 35 years, college tuition at public universities has nearly quadrupled, to $9,139 in 2014 dollars. It is a fairy tale in the worst sense, in that it is not merely false, but rather almost the inverse of the truth.
He goes on to break down the numbers, showing that the public investment in higher education today is even larger in inflation-adjusted dollars than the golden ages of the 1960s. But rates of tuition have increased faster. If the rates of car prices had increased over the last three decades as fast as tuition, a new car would cost on average more than $80,000.
While the increased number of students and universities spreads out the higher levels funding, the problem is not a lack of state support for higher education. Campos blames the growth of university administrators. Administrative positions at colleges and universities grew by 60 percent between 1993 and 2009, 10 times the growth rate of tenured faculty positions.
When adjunct instructors or out-of-work academics consider the reasons for their plight, I think they should pause before immediately blaming the lack of public funding as the source of their problems.