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December 27, 2013

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Colleges Trim Staffing Bloat: Amid Tuition Backlash and Cuts in State Subsidies, Schools Target Efficiencies. It’s about time:

Federal higher-education data, while delivered on a two-year lag, show back-office expenses have been growing rapidly. The number of employees hired by colleges and universities to manage or administer people, programs and regulations rose 50% faster than the number of instructors between 2001 and 2011, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

At the schools where new efficiencies are being touted, costs have shot up over that same time frame. In inflation-adjusted dollars back-office expenses between 2001 to 2011, as measured by the combined categories of academic and institutional support as reported to the Department of Education, increased 68% at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; 91% at the University of Texas at Austin; 59% at the University of California Berkeley; and 99% at the University of Kansas.

The changes described here are penny-ante by comparison. And there’s no sign of anyone adopting my proposal to replace high-paid administrative drones with low-paid contract-worker “adjunct administrators.”