Budget / Education

Commentary: Report Blasts Administrative Bloat, Waste in Universities

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This week, scholars from the University of Arkansas’s Department of Education Reform released a report on the state of administrative waste in America’s public universities. Published in collaboration with the Goldwater Institute, the report blasts the current state of hiring trends in American universities. It demonstrates that school administrative positions are being added at an untenable rate, significantly surpassing the respective rate of increase for students and genuine academics.

For instance, at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette between 1993 and 2007, there was a 44% increase in the number of full-time administrators per 100 students. In contrast, over the same time period, there was a mere 9% increase in the number of academics, researchers, and full-time teachers. Not coincidentally, over this time period in which growth was measured, college costs underwent a meteoric rise, which can be attributed to the “bureaucracy of the university,” as Dr. Jay Greene, leader of the study aptly calls it.

There is a clear correlation between the bloated administrative costs of taxpayer-subsidized universities and skyrocketing tuition. Further, the primary functions of our public universities are being neglected while our tax dollars are directed towards the inessential and the superfluous.

An article in the Indianapolis Star illustrates the long term implications of a government and taxpayer subsidized administrative bureaucracy within our universities: “There is a vicious circle: Universities pass along the cost of administrative bloat to consumers in the form of higher tuition, which causes families to demand higher subsidies from the government, which enables even higher administrative costs and tuition rates.”

This is obviously a vicious circle which needs to be broken up. Unfortunately, our current political leaders adhere to the pernicious philosophy that more spending, no matter how untenable, is the panacea for every problem. This valuable study should promote a push in the other direction.

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