Study finds shift to contingent faculty doesn't save much in total personnel costs
- A new survey from the American Institutes for Research shows that most colleges and universities are reducing salary and benefit expenditures by hiring more part-time and adjunct faculty members, but that the savings do not go a long way after investments made in other areas of the college enterprise.
- According to the report, contingent faculty positions increased between 6% and 17% at all two- and four-year institutions between 2003 and 2013, leading to 37% salary spending reductions at four-year private schools and 24% decreases at four-year public institutions. But among total employee spending, costs were only decreased by 19% and 14%, respectively.
- Most of the savings yielded at public institutions were shifted to increases in student recruitment budgeting, support services like counseling and institutional athletic budgets.
It was once a reasonable proposition to expect that hiring more adjunct and part-time faculty members would create big savings in academic spending, but with growing movements among adjuncts and teaching assistants to secure more benefits, that idea is quickly fading as a budgetary option.
For most campus leaders, the smartest approach to managing costs is determining which programs are underperforming in enrollment, grant-making and research, and engaging faculty in the process of assessing programs and urging reforms to save them from being cut or reorganized.
- American Institutes for Research Colleges increasingly use contingent faculty to cut costs, but savings are modest when accounting for compensation of all employees