College Guide

Blog

January 24, 2013 10:00 AM More Information About College Administrators and High Tuition

By Daniel Luzer

Back in 2011 Benjamin Ginsberg, a political science professor at Johns Hopkins University, wrote a piece for us about academic administrators and tuition growth. One of the major reasons colleges cost more to students, he argued, was that colleges were just hiring a lot more really expensive administrators to “manage” these institutions. As he wrote:

Apparently, as colleges and universities have had more money to spend, they have not chosen to spend it on expanding their instructional resources—that is, on paying faculty. They have chosen, instead, to enhance their administrative and staff resources. America’s private colleges increased spending on instruction by 22 percent while increasing spending on administration and staff support by 36 percent. Parents who wonder why college tuition is so high and why it increases so much each year may be less than pleased to learn that their sons and daughters will have an opportunity to interact with more administrators and staffers— but not more professors. Well, you can’t have everything.

It’s certainly a rather compelling argument, but it’s a little difficult to conclusively demonstrate that cost costs more because of administrators.

More information, however, has helpfully been provided by Kristen DiCerbo over at Pearson Education. The graph below shows the number of administrators who make over $100k per 1,000 students versus tuition at private universities.

TuitionAndFancyAdministrators

This data is nonlinear, meaning that the number of administrators with six-figure salaries is not is not directly proportional to tuition. Still, there is an interesting relationship here between tuition and well-compensated administrators. Having a lot of highly-paid non-faculty around seems to have something to do with charging students more money .

What would be really interesting would be to see is how this works at public institutions, which the vast majority of American college students attend. [Graph via]

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer