College enrollment may be plateauing, but that hasn’t stopped the growth in university administrative positions. They increased 28 percent between 2000 and 2012, according to a report released by the Delta Cost Project, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that conducts research on college finances. And they have been increasing for the past two decades.The number of faculty members per administrator also decreased by 40 percent. The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that the ratio of faculty members to administrative professionals is now about 2.5 to 1. Some faculty are calling on universities to reprioritize:
“You see it on every campus—an increase in administration and a decrease in full-time faculty, and an increase in the use of part-time faculty,” said Howard J. Bunsis, a professor of accounting at Eastern Michigan University and chair of the American Association of University Professors’ Collective Bargaining Congress, “It’s not what it should be. What’s broken in higher ed is the priorities, and it’s been broken for a long time.” […]
At what point,” [Professor Robert Martin] said, “does that ratio of nonacademic staff to tenured faculty become completely untenable?”
This study adds to a growing body of evidence showing that colleges have been enlarging their administrative staffs at the expense of their core mission of education. We’ve already seen how the growth of administrative bureaucracies and non-classroom spending more generally are driving up tuition costs. As enrollment plateaus and students become more price-conscious, schools will have little choice but to reform or face extinction.