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Hiring Spree Fattens College Bureaucracy And Tuition

BeliavskyBeliavsky 1166 replies87 discussions- Posts: 1,253 Senior Member
edited January 2013 in Parents Forum
Cost of College: Colleges' Bureaucracy Expands Costs
By DOUGLAS BELKIN and SCOTT THURM
Wall Street Journal
December 28, 2012


Across U.S. higher education, nonclassroom costs have ballooned, administrative payrolls being a prime example. The number of employees hired by colleges and universities to manage or administer people, programs and regulations increased 50% faster than the number of instructors between 2001 and 2011, the U.S. Department of Education says.
edited January 2013
77 replies
Post edited by Beliavsky on
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Replies to: Hiring Spree Fattens College Bureaucracy And Tuition

  • sally305sally305 7475 replies129 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 7,604 Senior Member
    Couldn't read the article (not a subscriber) but this is no surprise to me. I used to work at at a state flagship and the bureaucracy was astonishing. And of course, once people have these jobs it is very hard to get rid of them even if needs change...which is part of the reason for the increasing bloat.
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  • barronsbarrons 23029 replies1951 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 24,980 Senior Member
    Expectations for non-academic services have increased rapidly. Placement centers, personal counseling, academci advising have all been expanded to meet the new needs of students and the high expectations of parents. Also research funding and the oversight of that area has grown much faster than funding for classes. Could not read article but you have to look very closely at what is an admin vs student services, etc
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  • argbargyargbargy 1294 replies12 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,306 Senior Member
    Interesting article. I thought this was relevant, especially since there is a quote from a professor about how they can never get rid of positions since everyone is so nice.
    Administrative employees make up an increasing share of the university's higher-paid people. The school employs 353 people earning more than $200,000 a year. That is up 57% from the inflation-adjusted pay equivalent in 2001. Among this $200,000-plus group, 81 today have administrative titles, versus 39 in 2001.

    Administrators making over $300,000 in inflation-adjusted terms rose to 17 from seven.

    MN has an administrative overhead of $4200 per student per year, whereas University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign only has $969. I wonder if people notice the difference and/or think they are getting their money's worth when it costs them 4 grand to talk to administrators per year.
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  • BeliavskyBeliavsky 1166 replies87 discussions- Posts: 1,253 Senior Member
    A recent book on administrative bloat is "The Fall of the Faculty: The Rise of the All-Administrative University and Why It Matters" by Benjamin Ginsberg (2011).
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  • kelsmomkelsmom 15407 replies98 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 15,505 Senior Member
    The regulations involved for schools that administer federal aid and research grant programs are astonishing - and the bigger the school, the more difficult it is to comply with those regulations. I work at a very small school - grad only, 155 students - and am registrar, financial aid manager, and admissions manager. The hoops schools must jump through are many, and they are pretty much fiery hoops - do it wrong & you'll pay dearly. Throw in ADA, veterans benefits, and all the rest ... administratively, costs just keep spiraling due to all the rules and regulations. HOWEVER, I will say that I know lots of people in administration at various schools, and none I know - other than director or provost positions - make as much as what is cited above. And I know folks at private and public colleges, U's, and CC's. Faculty are another story ... although I know plenty of faculty who don't earn nearly that much, either (the med, pharm, and law school faculty do, but that makes sense to me).
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  • PizzagirlPizzagirl 40168 replies320 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 40,488 Senior Member
    Complex administrative matters need high skills people to work at them. If that's the wage it takes to get them, so be it. If you think services are over bloated at a school, don't apply there.
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  • argbargyargbargy 1294 replies12 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 1,306 Senior Member
    The article is about tax dollar supported institutions. So it is our business.
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  • kayfkayf 4088 replies73 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,161 Senior Member
    Pizza, we all pay for the bloat. Whether public U's or in ever increasing debt that kids are encourage to take (and which there will likely be a bailout at some point). It must stop. I think that many jobs have been suffered from creditentials creep. I do not have an aversion to hiring someone with a Masters or PHd, but that does not mean the job needs it, nor should be paid to reflect it.
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  • rushedmomrushedmom 622 replies7 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 629 Member
    Having a D at a state flagship U the frustrating thing to me is the administrative help seems to be in the wrong places. Lots of admin asst. types stand as gatekeepers to the needed Academic Advisors etc..

    a frustrating cycle..
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  • VladenschlutteVladenschlutte 4292 replies37 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,329 Senior Member
    MN has an administrative overhead of $4200 per student per year, whereas University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign only has $969. I wonder if people notice the difference and/or think they are getting their money's worth when it costs them 4 grand to talk to administrators per year.

    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?
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  • barronsbarrons 23029 replies1951 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 24,980 Senior Member
    If anyone believes the true gap between UMinn and UIUC is that large I have that bridge to sell you. Classifying these items is hard enough if you have access to all the details. Doing it via some common stats data is impossible and errorprone.
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  • kayfkayf 4088 replies73 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,161 Senior Member
    Baron, I tend to agree with you, but I do think that trustees of Public U's in particular should be trying to make certain it is not out of hand.
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  • blossomblossom 9591 replies9 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 9,600 Senior Member
    But if a U tried to cut back- let's say by reducing the number of staff people managing the learning services operation which allows students with ADD or other to attend college and be successful- there would be a hue and cry. Or cutting back on the number of psychiatrists at the health center-- and telling students having a mental health crisis to dial 911 or show up at the local ER- parents would be furious. Or maybe you want the team of dieticians who now work in food services to go home??? But they make it possible for the gluten free vegan who is deathly allergic to peanuts to attend college.

    Etc. Admin creep exists because in the year 2012 a college can't run like it's 1975 when many of us were living on campus. My college didn't have people on call to troubleshoot when a student needed with computing or the wi-fi went down. (Heck, we had one phone per floor in the dorm and lined up to call our parents on Sundays with quarters in hand). My roommate was suicidal freshman year- I finally got a dean on the phone late at night who told me to call 911 and then call her parents so he could go back to sleep. Students who showed up with drug or alcohol problems occasionally attended AA meetings at a church in town-- but there was nobody on the college payroll who dealt with substance abuse. And there were three chaplains- anyone of a different faith could either seek out a like-minded religious leader in a community near by, go to Mass and assume that "it's all one god", or keep their own beliefs to themselves.

    I think the explosion of administrators just reflects our own consumer society. When we pay for something we want it to fit us 100%. No compromises.

    And regulatory compliance? Colleges have teams of legal help now that just didn't exist back then. You try running a lab filled with monkeys for your psych or bio department without running into trouble with the animal rights brigades.

    It doesn't come cheap. But we all want more. And more. And for someone else to pay for it.
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  • VladenschlutteVladenschlutte 4292 replies37 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 4,329 Senior Member
    But if a U tried to cut back- let's say by reducing the number of staff people managing the learning services operation which allows students with ADD or other to attend college and be successful- there would be a hue and cry. Or cutting back on the number of psychiatrists at the health center-- and telling students having a mental health crisis to dial 911 or show up at the local ER- parents would be furious. Or maybe you want the team of dieticians who now work in food services to go home??? But they make it possible for the gluten free vegan who is deathly allergic to peanuts to attend college.

    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.
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 76099 replies663 discussionsRegistered User Posts: 76,762 Senior Member
    A lot of these type of things are not simple services that are purchased at one's discretion, but are things thought of as "insurance" (much like basic police and fire departments). I.e. lack of or insufficient mental health services and emergency services may increase the risk of a mentally disturbed student going on a homicidal rampage and not being stopped for a while. Of course, how much "insurance" is worth it is something that can be investigated and argued.

    As far as the special meals in the dining hall go, it should not be that hard to make vegan meals that fulfill nutritional needs and comply with all religious restrictions that exist among the students and serve those to everyone without needing special meals (plus, vegan meals likely cost less than non-vegan meals). However, that may not be popular with students who have less restrictive diets, even though they can each such meals.
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