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New Study Blames Tenured Faculty & Their Anemic Teaching Loads For Spiraling College Tuition Costs

If colleges and universities were serious about making school more affordable, they could start herding professors back into their classrooms.

The declining teaching load of tenured professors and tenure-track faculty has boosted the average cost of college per student by $2,598 annually, according to a new study by the Education Sector and The American Council of Trustees and Alumni.

Between 1988 and 2004, the average number of classes that professors taught declined 25 percent — from 3.6 to 2.7 courses per term. At research-intensive universities, the typical professor teaches just 1.8 courses. However, similar declines may be seen at every class of higher education institution in the U.S., including at community colleges, where the number of courses taught per year has declined, as well. The study’s author, Andrew Gillen explains:

Professors are spending less time teaching. From 1987-1988 to 2003-2004, the average number of courses tenured and tenure-track faculty taught per term (commonly called the teaching load) declined 25 percent. It is hard to overstate how dramatic this decline has been. For example, liberal arts colleges tend to specialize in teaching, and yet professors at liberal arts colleges taught less in 2003-2004 than professors at research universities did in

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3 Comments for “New Study Blames Tenured Faculty & Their Anemic Teaching Loads For Spiraling College Tuition Costs”

  1. YES! Thank you for the link to this study and for writing about it.

  2. I am absolutely opposed to full-time faculty denigrating adjunct colleagues. That has to be a two-way street, starting with an understanding that ACTA will never be the advocate for any faculty, full-time or part-time. There are enormous problems with this “study,” and it is disappointing to see AdjunctNation take it at face value without reporting the quick criticisms of this.

    • @Sherman, I’m not sure studies by advocates for college faculty are the most reliable, either. I’d be interested to know what problems you identified with the study. In addition, while we might identify “issues” with the study, I think we still need to ask why tenure-line and tenured faculty who receive the lion’s share of money available for faculty compensation teach less than lower-paid FT lecturers and PTers.

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