Phil Magness keeps attributing the growth in the percentage of part-time faculty to the rise of the for-profit universities. But his own chart seems to show that that impact has been less than one might expect.
Notice that the percentage of part-time faculty at all institutions is 47%, only .4% higher than the total for public institutions and only 4.8% higher than the percentage for private non-profit institutions.
Notice, too, that at associate-degree colleges, the percentage at public institutions is exactly the average for all institutions. Likewise, notice that in the top three categories, either the public institutions or the private non-profit institutions employ a higher percentage of part-time faculty than the average for all institutions.
Readers of this blog know that I am clearly not a statistician, but if there was some dramatic skewing of the numbers, wouldn’t it be more readily apparent?
And I will reiterate what I said in the previous post–that this phenomenon is percolating upward, a fact that seems to be reflected in the chart on which Magness is relying.
Furthermore, as I indicate previously, that movement upward would almost certainly be reflected more pointedly if each category were broken down to reflect the various tiers of institutions within each group and/or the distribution of part-time faculty across disciplines, which would almost certainly show a concentration in the humanities and social sciences and in the teaching of the core or general-education courses in those disciplines—or a hollowing out of many of those departments.
It is also worth noting that the numbers on the for-profit institutions are also misleading because almost the very large online for-profits often advertised as if they were designed to meet the needs of graduate and baccalaureate students, almost all of their enrollment has been in associates and certificate programs. So, if the chart reflected the level of courses typically offered at those institutions, their numbers in the top three tiers would be lower than they are in this chart.
But let’s say that Magness is right and the statistics have been skewed by hiring at the for-profit institutions. Then we should be seeing very changed numbers as soon as the data for the last three years becomes available since there has been very dramatic declines in the enrollments at all of the largest online for-profit institutions—and the complete elimination of one of the largest of those institutions, Corinthian Colleges.
But, beyond what those numbers will show, in highlighting the impact of the for-profit institutions on these employment numbers, Magness seems to be asserting that it is a problem largely contained to a sub-standard sector of higher education. I think that he is very much mistaken to dismiss the profound impact that those institutions have had over the past two decades on higher education—on the priorities within all of our institutions. And that impact has included the supposed “necessity” of hiring more part-time and full-time contingent faculty, especially in disciplines for which the corporatizers have little regard, if not outright disdain.
For more on that broader impact, see my previous posts:
“The Meaning of the Failure of the Online For-Profit Institutions” https://academeblog.org/2015/03/28/the-meaning-of-the-failure-of-the-online-for-profit-universities/
“Now That We Have Transformed Our Institutions to Compete with the University of Phoenix, It’s on Life Support”