January 2, 2013

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Big Bloat On Campus: An F For Effort on Holding Down Tuition.

At the University of Minnesota, the number of employees with “human resources” or “personnel” in their job titles has grown from 180 to 272 since the 2004-05 academic year. Since 2006, the university has spent $10 million on consultants for a vast new housing development that is decades from completion. It employs 139 people for marketing, promotions and communications. Some 81 administrators make $200,000 per year or more.

In the past decade, Minnesota’s administrative payroll has gone up three times as fast as the teaching payroll, and twice as fast as student enrollment. Oh, and tuition more than doubled in that same period, to more than $13,000 per year.

These facts and figures, gleaned from a fascinating article in last weekend’s Wall Street Journal, are depressingly typical of American higher education, where administrative payrolls and other non-teaching costs have been growing rapidly — without any obvious commensurate benefit for students.

To the contrary, the bloat on many U.S. campuses is now a significant cause, along with cutbacks in state spending, of the surge in tuition, which, in turn, is an obstacle to upward mobility for an entire generation of young Americans.

Do tell.