DoE: Troubling Trends in Higher Education

HigheredThis should grab your attention.

I was in 11th grade back in 1976. I recall hearing even then how poorly students were performing on SATs compared to ten years prior. 

Now compare what’s happened since then. None of these trends make education better. 

Chart of the Day (above) summarizes some of the most important, and perhaps troubling, trends in higher education between 1976 and 2011 (most recent year available of consistent historical data before the Department of Education re-classified administrative staff that no longer allows comparisons to data in previous years) including: a) a near tripling in inflation-adjusted college tuition (compared to an increase in real median household income of less than 10% during that period), b) an increase in full-time faculty (76%) far less than the increase in the number of college students (91%) compared to the nearly quadrupling in part-time faculty (283%) and the 139% increase in executive/administrative/managerial positions. The nearly tripling in inflation-adjusted cost of college tuition over 35 years between 1976 and 2011 can’t be explained by the increase in the number of full-time faculty, and can’t be explained by the substitution of cheaper part-time faculty for more expensive full-time faculty (whose inflation-adjusted salaries were basically flat during that period, increasing by only 0.37% annually). So perhaps it’s the increasingly top-heavy college administrations and “administrative bloat” that is one of the primary reasons for the rise in college tuition, which has fueled a skyrocketing rise in student loan debt?