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Hiring Spree Fattens College Bureaucracy And Tuition


Replies to: Hiring Spree Fattens College Bureaucracy And Tuition

  • PizzagirlPizzagirl 40168 replies320 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 40,488 Senior Member
    "This is not a communist country. Who would argue against charging for these services in exchange for lowering tuition? Those services which fail to make a profit get cut. That's the market speaking about what people want and what they don't rather than the bureaucrats."

    What univ president wants to deal with a student mental health crisis (such as a suicide) and then explain that mental health services were only for the rich kids?
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  • VladenschlutteVladenschlutte 4292 replies37 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,329 Senior Member
    What univ president wants to deal with a student mental health crisis (such as a suicide) and then explain that mental health services were only for the rich kids?

    That's true. None will want to do it. They can pass the buck to lack of government funding for increased tuition, but they can't as easily pass the buck of a suicide on the person in question. Guess that's why we're where we are.
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  • PizzagirlPizzagirl 40168 replies320 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 40,488 Senior Member
    Let the depressed or troubled eat cake. Lovely.
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  • emeraldkity4emeraldkity4 34785 replies1076 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 35,861 Senior Member
    The article is about tax dollar supported institutions. So it is our business.

    Do we want students from our state to be able to attend universities where their emotional needs are supported & where their academic strengths are challenged?
    Do we want them to be taught by profs who are able to commit to a university for much of their career? Or do we want schools with high turnover in the student body and faculty?

    Or- do we want our brightest students to attend school out of state, where they may likely stay?
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  • soccerguy315soccerguy315 7168 replies77 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 7,245 Senior Member
    the problem isn't that a school has someone to work on mental health issues... the problem is they have like 500 deans and assistant deans and provosts and vice presidents etc etc etc
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  • emeraldkity4emeraldkity4 34785 replies1076 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 35,861 Senior Member
    I am not. In administration, so I dont have an opinion on how many people it takes to run a university.

    My daughters school does a good job with their small budget however, as do many other schools.
    Best Values in Public Colleges, 2013
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  • bclintonkbclintonk 7623 replies31 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 7,654 Senior Member
    This is old news, but not unimportant. Here's a 2011 Washington Monthly story that clearly identifies the trends:

    The Washington Monthly - The Magazine - Administrators Ate My Tuition

    Basically, student-faculty ratios have held pretty constant, and faculty salaries have not increased in real terms in recent years. At many universities, the share of teaching done by tenured and tenure-track faculty has actually declined, as the university seeks to shave costs by filling more podiums with low-paid, part-time adjuncts. Meanwhile, salaries for "executive-level" administrators have soared, those positions have become far more numerous, and increasingly they are held by "professionals" other than faculty. At the same time, non-instructional staff-level positions have also proliferated, in part in response to student and parent demands for more and better counseling services, career services, study abroad programs, IT service provision and support, support services for student activities, and on and on. As a result, faculty instruction represents a declining share of college and university budgets, and at many institutions non-faculty payrolls now exceed spending on faculty.

    I'm not saying this is necessarily a bad thing, nor am I prepared to say it's a good thing. But it is a real thing. An ever-increasing share of your tuition dollar is going not to instruction, but to high-priced administrators and various ancillary services. I'm convinced the growth on the student services side is largely consumer-driven; students and their parents want more and better student services, and they'll spend their tuition dollars where they perceive such services to be the best-funded and most responsive. And to be blunt, it's much easier to do comparison shopping between schools on the basis of these ancillary services, than it is to compare the quality and depth of instruction. So that becomes the basis for the consumer decision, and colleges know it. From the colleges' perspective, it certainly doesn't hurt that many of these expenditures can be categorized as student-related, and therefore count in the expenditures-per-student column that buoys the school's US News ranking. So we end up with a kind of "arms race" to provide better, fancier, and more expensive services, driven both by the demands of students and their parents, and by the school's self-interest in boosting its almighty ranking.

    And so it goes.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 32209 replies336 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 32,545 Senior Member
    Here we are again, looking for simple reasons, the little head smackers, why don't they get it?

    And, by gummy, there's the popular media to explain it all.

    Wash Monthly refers to the Delta Project up to 2008 (perhaps it goes further, later in the article.) Here's the Delta update- which I think some will be interested in.

    College spending in a turbulent decade http://www.deltacostproject.org/pdfs/Delta-Cost-College-Spending-In-A-Turbulent-Decade.pdf

    Where does the money go? http://www.deltacostproject.org/resources/pdf/Delta-Spending-Trends-Production.pdf Incl interesting tables.

    Be aware that some of the quotables can't be taken out of the greater context.
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  • Sue22Sue22 6064 replies106 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 6,170 Senior Member
    Thanks for the link. For those who haven't checked it out, one of the things it shows across types of institutions is increased spending between 2000 and 2009, then a decrease in spending from 2009 to 2010. In some cases these decreases brought spending to a level lower than it was in 2001. For instance, in 2001 the average per student spending for operations and maintenance at a public bachelor's institution was $1575. By 2009 it had risen to $1956. In 2010, no doubt due to cut driven by the poor economy, it had dropped to $1555. The problem is that no matter how poor the economy it's impossible to defer maintenance forever. What many colleges and universities probably thought of as temporary measures in 2009-2010 are unsustainable in the long run and the result is increased spending.
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  • kayfkayf 4088 replies73 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,161 Senior Member
    Sue - some of the cuts may be penny wise and pound foolish. If property is not maintained, it can be more expensive to replace. If you do not paint an metal railing, it may rust and be more expensive in the long run. However, hopefully the cuts are some of the large numbers of deans.
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  • jym626jym626 54618 replies2834 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 57,452 Senior Member
    I admit I find it painful that administrators are felt to be so important that they can command these salaries, yet in healthcare, providers seem to be looked down upon, as their reimbursement rates just keep getting lower and lower and lower.

    OK rant over.
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  • college_querycollege_query 4219 replies300 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,519 Senior Member
    I work at a public university in an administrative position. In my observation, here are a few reasons for the rise of university costs:

    1) Decreased state support for public institutions. Budgets keep being cut. Administrative financial staff spend a lot of time analyzing budgets and figuring out how to meet the bottom line.

    2) Increased regulation. For example, the federal government keeps passing new regulations for federal financial aid, trying to make sure there is not abuse by those taking subsidized loans, Pell, etc. They want to make sure the schools' "product" is not a scam, so they impose "gainful employment" reporting requirements. Administrative staff respond by changing their policies to adhere to financial aid regulations. This means re-programming computers and adding steps to financial aid disbursement. Meeting federal reporting requirements also requires administrative staff to collect, analyze, and submit the data.

    3) Increased assessment requirements. For re-accreditation, schools must produce data that demonstrates how they are successfully meeting their objectives. Gathering this data requires endless surveys of students, departments and faculty. The survey instruments need to be designed and administered and the results need to be tabulated and analyzed. This requires administrative staff.

    4) Increased technological demands. I work in IT. Students (and faculty and staff) want WiFi available everywhere on campus. They don’t just want to be able to do things on the computer, they also want mobile apps available for all the various platforms. They want 24/7 access, which means back-ups need to happen seamlessly without interruption. They want the latest tools available for teaching – smart boards, the ability to upload media to class discussion chats, the ability of students to monitor their grades online. And they want security – they don't want their personal data compromised. All of this requires administrative staff.

    I can't think of a week where I didn't work more than 40 hours. I don't get overtime or extra pay for this time. We keep adding new tools, software, and ways of doing things to make it easier and better for the students and the faculty, and all these tools and software need to be upgraded, maintained, and administered. To make it all work automatically for you requires a whole lot of work on our side. Our service goal is that you don't notice we are doing our job, because everything always works. If it doesn't work, you want support 24/7, which also has an administrative cost.

    I love my job. It's intellectually challenging and I enjoy the academic year cycle. I also work with wonderful employees across the university. Most are hard working and dedicated and bright. We accept lower pay than the industry standard because of the benefit of being in an intellectually stimulating environment. During my lunch I will often wander over to our art museum to see the latest exhibit, or watch the marching band practice, or take a walk in the union to see the student groups' homecoming competition. I feel like what I'm doing is worthwhile.

    I know when things don't get done/aren't available, people are upset, for example, if we don’t have our computer labs open/campus printers available, or if the trash doesn't get emptied, or the walk-ways don't get shoveled or treated for ice, or there isn't food available for the students, or students can't go online and submit their paper for a class right before the deadline, or view grades over the break (and they want the grades to be correct and they want an appeal process if they feel a mistake has been made). They want the classes they need to be offered so they can graduate on time. Applicants want to appeal their financial aid award, to see if a school will grant a little more money so a student can attend, or to match a competing school’s offer. When students transfer, they want their previous course work to count and apply toward their graduation requirements. All of these services require administrative planning, supervision and analysis.

    I don’t have any answers, but before you lambaste a bunch of anonymous administrative university employees as worthless and overpaid, thought you might want to be aware of the kinds of things we do.
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  • argbargyargbargy 1294 replies12 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,306 Senior Member
    Let the depressed or troubled eat cake. Lovely.


    Supposedly Conservatives evaluate things along the axis of civilization vs barbarism; Liberals looks at things as Oppressors and Oppressed; Libertarians look at coercion verses free choice.

    You seem to view every issue as if someone is being offered cake.

    I personally find it non-credible that in these massive budgets that have been growing faster than inflation that there is nothing that be cut, or no cost containment that can be done. You worry that any cut must necessarily come out of vital student services.

    To clarify things here is information on the source of the data. "Administrative spending " seems to be defined in a way that doesnt include student-facing services.
    "Notes: Education-related spending includes instruction, research, student services, academic support, operation and maintenance and administrative costs. It excludes the costs of dormitories, dining halls, bookstores, hospitals and other ancillary operations. Administrative spending includes management of the university including human resources, legal, financial, purchasing and marketing operations, among others.
    Source: U.S. Department of Education"
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  • argbargyargbargy 1294 replies12 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,306 Senior Member
    Where do you find this data/can you tell me the administrative overhead per student for Michigan (Ann Arbor), Michigan State, Michigan Tech, Wayne State, and Western Michigan?

    It wasnt an all-inclusive table.

    Out of the ones you list there is:
    Michigan State University $2,370
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  • momfrommemomfromme 2591 replies78 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 2,669 Senior Member
    I agree with college_query on almost everything. Along with all of that, student and parent expectations are higher.

    When you tour campuses, do you get excited about amazing fitness centers and food service? There is an arms race, such that schools feel they have to upgrade these. Unless they received big gifts to build new facilities (and, more important, to maintain them), these increase costs.

    Parents also want more support services for their kids, including kids who probably would have gone to school closer to home in previous years, since they need a good deal of emotional support. It's great that people who would have had more trouble being independent have better support away than they did, but these services cost money.

    That said, upper administrators should take a careful look at their cost structure and pare away what's not needed. There are likely offices that could be combined and costs saved. In some places, the number of administrators continues to grow even when faculty positions are being cut, thus reducing course options and programs of study. That doesn't serve students well.
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