The rising cost of college: Blame professors, too
A new study documents a pernicious way that the umbrella of ever-greater federal subsidies for higher education provides cover for ever-rising tuition that soaks taxpayers, students and families: professors at research universities slacking on actually teaching classes.
Sponsored by the American Council of Trustees and Alumni and the Education Sector think tank, the study finds that if each full-time professor taught one additional class per semester, these institutions — including Penn State and the University of Pittsburgh — could generate hundreds of millions of dollars in additional revenue.
Had that happened between 1988 and 2004, when faculty course loads dropped from 3.6 classes per semester to 2.7, a bit more than half of tuition hikes during that time could have been avoided, says economist Andrew Gillen, the study's author.
Professors teaching less contributed to a double whammy hitting students and families: More of their dollars going to federal higher-ed subsidies, making it harder to pay ever-higher tuition — and anecdotal evidence says that trend continues.
The study blames emphasis on research for professors' turn away from teaching. Pitt is silent on the matter. Penn State contends research grants offset faculty salaries and thus lower instruction's cost. Yet tuition increases far outpace inflation.
That's because rising federal subsidies provide leeway for wasteful higher-ed nonsense such as this study documents — waste that will continue as long as federal subsidies do.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Piercing the media’s shield: Muzzles & slopes
- Sunday pops
- The Box
- Snow shovelers needed: A call for volunteers
- Saturday essay: The thumb itches
- The Penn State deal: Focus lost
- The Thursday wrap
- Greensburg Tuesday takes
- A hunting question: A Pennsylvania proposal to limit the game that mentored youth hunters can take appears to be a solution in search of a problem
- Shenango shakedown: Public money at risk
- Jesse White’s chutzpah