Colleges and universities of all kinds are increasingly relying on non-tenure-track faculty members. And administrators frequently defend their hiring choices by citing money. Since adjuncts are paid less than those on the tenure track (and frequently lack benefits), it costs colleges less to have a section taught by an adjunct than by someone who is tenured or on the tenure track.
But where do the savings go?
The American Institutes of Research released two studies Wednesday to answer that question. Both studies use data from the Delta Cost Project -- which is highly regarded for tracking how colleges spend money -- and both were sponsored by the TIAA Institute.
With regard to savings, the studies suggest that what colleges are saving on instructional costs isn’t resulting in more investment in tenure-track faculty, as some might hope. Rather, the savings appear to be showing up elsewhere, if at all.
Here are some of the key findings:
Private four-year colleges that use large proportions of non-tenure-track faculty members spend 37 percent less on full-time faculty members of all kinds than do similar institutions with small shares of non-tenure-track faculty members. But looking at spending on all categories of full-time employees, these institutions are spending only 19 percent less than those with small shares of non-tenure-track faculty members. So more spending seems possible on the administrative side of the house.