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Education The Almighty Buck

Teaching College Is No Longer a Middle Class Job 538

Posted by Soulskill
from the dollars-and-sense dept.
An anonymous reader writes When you think of people who teach at a college, you probably imagine moderately affluent professors with nice houses and cars. All that tuition has to go into competitive salaries, right? Unfortunately, it seems being a college instructor is becoming less and less lucrative, even to the point of poverty. From the article: "Most university-level instructors are ... contingent employees, working on a contract basis year to year or semester to semester. Some of these contingent employees are full-time lecturers, and many are adjunct instructors: part-time employees, paid per class, often without health insurance or retirement benefits. This is a relatively new phenomenon: in 1969, 78 percent of professors held tenure-track positions. By 2009 this percentage had shrunk to 33.5." This is detrimental to learning as well. Some adjunct faculty, desperate to keep jobs, rely on easy courses and popularity with students to stay employed. Many others feel obligated to help students beyond the limited office hours they're paid for, essentially working for free in order to get the students the help they need. At a time when tuition prices are rising faster than ever, why are we skimping on the most fundamental aspect of college?
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Teaching College Is No Longer a Middle Class Job

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  • Pathetic (Score:5, Informative)

    by The Grim Reefer (1162755) on Saturday June 21, 2014 @06:01PM (#47290069)
    The state of the education system in the US has become pathetic. I've seen it for years in the primary education system. I'm a little shocked that it is now at the university level too. Especially with the prices of tuition these days. It's even more surprising when you read stories like this [thefiscaltimes.com]
  • Re:Administrators (Score:5, Informative)

    by cashman73 (855518) on Saturday June 21, 2014 @06:23PM (#47290151) Journal
    I don't know about administrative staff, but at many of the D1 research schools, tenured and tenure-track faculty have largely been replaced by "perma-docs". That is, postdoctoral researchers that are entirely paid by "soft money" (e.g. grants), have zero teaching responsibilities, are not offered tenure (only the minute chance of a tenure-track job if they keep applying enough) and have no job security. It is not uncommon to see people in STEM fields with a PhD and having done three, four, even six post-doc appointments. In the past 20-30 years, the number of tenure/tenure-track jobs has declined dramatically, and the number of post-docs has increased exponentially.
  • I just want to know (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 21, 2014 @06:58PM (#47290299)

    Sports and sport complexes, and administration.

    I work at a relatively cheap college. Adjuncts get paid 1900 a semester. I'm a part-time librarian and get about 15000 a year when the going rate is about 50000 (so part time would be 25 - 30000). Yet our president lives in a mansion on the main line, one of the most expensive areas on the east coast. The library still has asbestos in it, but will they build a new building? No, they'd rather have a fancy new gym. It is a nice gym and I plan to use the pool frequently once I work fulltime and don't have to pay for membership, but still - you can see where their priorities lie.

  • Where the money goes (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 21, 2014 @07:13PM (#47290363)

    I am a university professor, so I know a little bit about fighting for money.

    Tuition rates are indeed skyrocketing, and most of that money is getting funneled into two places: athletic programs and facilities.

    Most universities are in a facilities arms race to build lab complexes and procure equipment to attract foreign students, who are often backed by enormous and nearly unlimited sums of money back home. The university I work for has an entire administrative department whose sole purpose is to court foreign students.

    Athletic programs are pretty self-explanatory.

  • Re:Administrators (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 21, 2014 @07:26PM (#47290397)

    Maybe people like you, there are individuals out there (like this guy) who actually are savagely hungry for knowledge & a chance to apply that knowledge in a career field knowing they are taking a large risk in a competitive environment completely driven by the desire to succeed, & disregarding any excuse to remain "normal" & "laim" like the majority of society. INTELLECT IS PRICELESS.

  • Re:Administrators (Score:5, Informative)

    by jythie (914043) on Saturday June 21, 2014 @07:39PM (#47290463)
    I think you missed the poster`s point. The idea is that college should not be a prerequiste for jobs, and that all those HR departments that are requiring it are a big part of the problem.
  • Re:Administrators (Score:4, Informative)

    by currently_awake (1248758) on Saturday June 21, 2014 @08:02PM (#47290579)
    Very few people can afford the drugs/sex/booze if they are attending college. Rich kids go to University. What you are regurgitating is Holywood myth.
  • Re:Administrators (Score:5, Informative)

    by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Saturday June 21, 2014 @08:44PM (#47290743) Homepage

    Stanford has all their classes online, as do many universities.

    See my reply above. In any event, they may have all their lectures online, but that is only a part of an education. The other part, readings, are not necessarily available to the general public. If you want to get any recent consensus in a field, you need access to e.g. JSTOR, which is not freely available to the public (some people are lucky enough to have a public library with an institutional subscription, but not all).

    No, not a "top notch" education at all. In my own field one very quickly tires of talking with dilettantes who have "educated themselves", because they have a view of the things decades out of date. They can't read the journals they need to stay up to date because these are closed-access. Furthermore, other publications are easy to get within a university network, but may not circulate out to public libraries under inter-library loan.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 21, 2014 @09:14PM (#47290899)

    Professors in technical areas make large amounts of money, and are guaranteed their salary for life once they've been promoted once (to associate professor).

    In my department, at the lowest level - assistant professor (tenure track, but not yet tenured) - they are making well north of 10K dollars a month.

    False. I am an assistant professor in mathematics at one of the top universities in the world. Many associate professors here do not have tenure and have no hope of ever receiving tenure. They certainly have not been "guaranteed their salary for life". They can be fired at any moment.

    And they don't make "well north of 10K dollars a month". In fact, if you look at the statistics online

    http://ams.org/notices/201406/rnoti-p611.pdf [ams.org]

    you'll see that the tenure-track assistant professors at large public universities make around 83K per year on average. The assistant professors who aren't tenure-track make even less, of course.

  • by buswolley (591500) on Saturday June 21, 2014 @11:31PM (#47291381) Journal

    you miss the point. They are not hiring full faculty. They are hiring adjuncts, with pay scales around 20-30k. Also there is the post-doc hell.

  • Re:Administrators (Score:4, Informative)

    by quetwo (1203948) on Sunday June 22, 2014 @09:36PM (#47295505) Homepage

    Here is the dirty little secret -- there hasn't been a huge influx of money. It used to be that most public schools got a majority of their funding from the state they reside in. Back in 1990, the public schools in Illinois got approximately 70% - 80% of their budget from the state. In 2010, this number is now 20%. Many states have also capped the school's ability to increase tuition to help back-fill this huge reduction in funding. The cost of things like power, water, gas, food, insurance, etc all continue to go up, and in most cases, the corporate donations to schools that used to fund research has gone down. Demand for increased enrollment has gone up (because every child NEEDS to attend school).

    What you have is a case where there is much more pressure applied to each dollar that walks in that door. In response, schools have been cutting everywhere -- including the amount they spend on faculty.

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