2009 January 17 Saturday
More Education Dollars Go To Administration

Colleges and universities continue to become more top-heavy. Time to cut the fat.

And the percentage of the budget going to instruction declined everywhere between 1995 and 2006 to 63 percent from 64.4 percent at public research institutions, to 50.2 percent from 52.8 percent at public community colleges, and to 38.9 percent from 40.7 percent at private bachelors colleges.

The biggest decline occurred at private research universities, where the percentage of the budget devoted to instruction went to 57.9 percent in 2006 from 62.3 percent in 1996.

Meanwhile, the share spent on administration and support increased everywhere. At public research universities, those costs consumed 28.3 percent of the budget in 2006, up from 27.7 percent in 1995. At private research institutions, they accounted for 32.9 percent of the budget, up from 30.1 percent, and at public community colleges, 37.7, up from 35.9 percent.

Administration isn't the only cost that needs cutting. We need online lectures and online standard tests for a large assortment of subjects. It is a ridiculous waste to have thousands of people stand up every semester and quarter to lecture on the same introductory material for calculus, chemistry, physics, and history. The basics can be done with recorded lectures. Live humans should only be used to answer questions. Even a lot of the Q&A could be done with live chatrooms and video feeds so that many people all over the world can hear the same answers.

The news report above relays information from the Delta Cost Project which studies educational costs.

Update: American institutions of higher education, where prices have been rising faster than overall inflation for decades, want a bail-out from Obama's fiscal stimulus package. They want to stay fat. I say time for a diet.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2009 January 17 02:41 PM  Education

Jerry Martinson said at January 17, 2009 8:41 PM:

I wonder how much of the administration costs are related to the undergraduate instruction and how much is related to the other functions of the universities that allow it to conduct relevant research so that the graduate instruction (and upper class undergrad) instruction is current. It takes a lot of work to get the NSF grants and industrial partnerships going that allow this to happen. I know that the school I went to benefited greatly from this and I got a much better education as a result. Otherwise the upper-level curriculum would have been stale.

I think you continue to make excellent points that the lower level undergraduate curriculum should move into the 21st century. Some part of college is the social atmosphere of getting drunk with other nerds. Social drinkers tend to make more money. I wonder how society would change if this becomes less prevalent.

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