Lower Teaching Loads and College Tuition

A new report by the Education Sector finds that the rise of college in tuition is related to a decline in faculty teaching loads

Not sure about that. Adjunct professors, who have made up the teaching gap, are pretty cheap. 


9 thoughts on “Lower Teaching Loads and College Tuition

  1. I haven’t read the report, but I also am suspicious of drawing a causation out of this correlation. As some of the comments, say, potentially the decrease in teaching is a mitigation factor, if faculty are teaching less but earning more grant dollars and thus, being replaced with lower priced staff.
    On the other hand, it’s possible that only a few institutions draw enough grant dollars for that to be the case, while the rest are chasing the tails of the winners, and loosing money (say, like in D1 football). It could be that the economics of having your faculty not teach (or paying your coach 1 million dollars) pencil out economically, but only if you’re in the top 10 of grant-getters or in D1 football.
    Maybe the actual report analyzes further?

  2. Correlation is not causation – bj’s right to question this claim.
    Yes, I teach a lower course-load than I did twenty years ago but I teach no fewer students. I’m also looking around at a lot of empty offices where full-time faculty used to work. When they retire, they’re not being replaced. Some sessionals, some distance courses – a lot of squeezes and cuts mean that we deliver the same program with fewer electives and options.
    I looked through the report. They’re comparing 1987-88 faculty numbers & teaching load to 2003-4. Nothing to do with 2013! The report is also seemingly assuming that the class sizes haven’t grown when they talk about an increase in revenue that higher teaching loads would generate. I have bigger class sizes these days precisely because students have fewer options. If you add more classes, you’re not necessarily adding more students to generate more tuition revenue – you’re likely spreading those same students among more courses (which could be a good situation, don’t get me wrong – just not one that brings in more money or cuts costs).
    I’m not a mindless supporter of the lower teaching load. As I noted above, I haven’t seen a great deal of benefit since I end up with about the same number of students. If I’m lucky, I might have one teaching assistant to help with some of the marking (certainly not all, even in the class which they’re working!). But arguing that lower teaching loads have caused the tuition crunch is overlooking a whole host of factors that have led to skyrocketing college costs. Those factors aren’t as appealing a “sell” to ACTA and its ilk, I imagine.

  3. Take a look at the source. It’s ACTA, which for me means automatically, “There’s going to be some serious bullshit going on with data manipulation here”. ACTA’s basic position on everything is, “The professors are responsible for everything bad in the universe.” If you asked ACTA who left the nearly-empty carton of milk at the back of your refrigerator, they’d tell you a professor snuck in your house and did it.

  4. “If you asked ACTA who left the nearly-empty carton of milk at the back of your refrigerator, they’d tell you a professor snuck in your house and did it.”
    I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what happened.

  5. I’m curious: is there any survey that questions faculty on *how* they would prefer to be spending their time? If there were no longer any requirement to do research, would faculty prefer to spend more time teaching?
    A friend of mine went into administration and is now an academic VP at a college. She loved research and administrating, but she did not love teaching. I love teaching and a little bit of administrating, but I don’t love research.

  6. Well, AmyP and Tim Burke, in your houses, pretty likely a professor sneaked in and left that milk. In my house, not so much…

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