Administrative bloat raises college costs

Administrative bloat is “the real reason for high costs in higher education,” argues a Goldwater Institute report.

Enrollment at leading universities rose by nearly 15 percent between 1993 and 2007. “But unlike almost every other growing industry, higher education has not become more efficient. Instead, universities now have more administrative employees and spend more on administration to educate each student.”

During those years, the number of full-time administrators per 100 students grew by 39 percent; teaching, research and service staff grew by 18 percent.

Inflation-adjusted spending on administration per student increased by 61 percent during the same period, while instructional spending per student rose 39 percent. Arizona State University, for example, increased the number of administrators per 100 students by 94 percent during this period while actually reducing the number of employees engaged in instruction, research and service by 2 percent. Nearly half of all full-time employees at Arizona State University are administrators.

Most university funding comes from the federal and state governments or from private gifts and fees for non-educational services, the report finds. “The large and increasing rate of government subsidy for higher education facilitates administrative bloat by insulating students from the costs.”

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