October 17, 2016

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Universities Are Churning Out the Next Generation of Higher Ed Bureaucrats.

The number of non-academic administrators at colleges and universities has more than doubled in the last 25 years, far outpacing the growth in students and faculty. According to a report from the American Institutes for Research, between 2000 and 2012 the average ratio of full-time faculty and staff per administrator declined 40 percent, to around 2.5 to 1.

Today, there’s an administrative position for everything: marketing, diversity, disability services, sustainability, environmental health, recruiting, technology, fundraising, and so on and so forth. Every year universities seem to find a “need” for new administrators, and each one brings a host of new lower-level staff positions. This trend has resulted in a vast bureaucracy living “high on the hog” at taxpayer expense. Perhaps equally troubling is that it also has resulted in the creation of advanced degree programs aimed at churning out university administrators.

During a period in which many universities are experiencing budget shortfalls and enrollment stagnation, and advanced degree holders in more scholarly fields are working as adjunct professors and underemployed, the rise of higher education administration degree programs should come as a shock to university leaders and to taxpayers. Universities exist to transmit knowledge to new generations and to create new knowledge through research, not to create an army of bureaucrats who have little or no connection to improving student learning, and who enter the profession imbued with the social justice mindset (more on that later).

Several hundred universities now offer programs specifically tailored to train the next generation of orientation directors and student affairs specialists. Students interested in entry-level positions in higher education administration, such as dorm manager and diversity coordinator, typically pursue a master’s degree.

By, of, and for the educrats. Faculty are increasingly an afterthought. Sadly, I was talking to a close friend from another school this weekend, and he was remarking that if his outside income keeps doing well, he might retire early. He’d always thought he’d never retire, but although he still likes the teaching, the administrative hassles are making the job much less enjoyable. Of course, the educrats won’t mind. Since they see faculty as interchangeable units of production, they’d be happy to lose a distinguished full professor, replace him with cheap, underpaid adjuncts — and have more money for educrat travel and conferences.

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