Sept. 16, 2015

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New CFHE study says students hurt by higher ed hiring practices

uupdate 9-17-15

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Universities are spending a lot more money on highly paid administrators than they are on faculty—and that's not good news for students.

Hiring and pay policies embraced by many universities are shortchanging students in other ways, which are outlined in a new report released by the Campaign for the Future of Higher Education.

The report, "Back to School in Higher Ed: Who Needs Faculty?," was issued Sept. 16 by the Center for the Future of Higher Education, a think tank associated with CFHE. The CFHE is a national confederation of organizations dedicated to quality, affordable and accessible higher education.

The study focuses on four trends happening at universities across America:

  • Hiring faculty on a temporary, mostly part-time basis and the elimination of full-time faculty positions;
  • Undermining the effectiveness of student-faculty interaction in the classroom;
  • Greater spending on management and less spending on students and faculty;
  • Steeply declining teaching salaries in spite of teachers going into debt to get their degrees.

“This paper highlights the effects of disinvestment by states in higher education,” said Eileen Landy, UUP’s statewide secretary and a CFHE coordinator. “The paper also connects that disinvestment with the increase in student debt and non-tenure track faculty, and it supports the importance of face-to-face faculty-student interaction.”

The wholesale trend of cutting higher education costs is resulting in more and more classes being taught by part-time faculty, hired just before start of semester. Plus, there’s no guarantee that these instructors will be back next term, the report said.

“There is an industry-wide trend of disinvestment in the people who matter the most to the students – the faculty,” said Gary Rhoades, a longtime CFHE supporter who leads the University of Arizona’s Department of Educational Policy Studies and Practice. “That is the wrong direction for institutions that claim they care about the quality of education they are providing to the next generation of leaders in this country.”

The paper examines research collected on the California State University, the largest system of four-year public higher ed in the nation. The CSU exhibits all of these trends on its 23 campuses.

Read the paper here.

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