The escalating price of going to college is a national scandal. The price of college has risen much more than inflation. Is college worth its cost? Economics Professor Richard Vedder has just reported on a new study made by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity at the University of Texas at Austin. It concluded that the University of Texas could cut its tuition by as much as half simply by asking the 80% of faculty with the lowest teaching loads to teach about half as much as the 20% of faculty with the highest loads. This change would require most of the faculty to teach, on average, about 150 to 160 students a year. For example, a professor might teach one undergraduate survey class for 100 students, two classes for advanced undergraduate students or beginning graduate students with 20-25 students and an advanced graduate seminar for 10 students. That would require the professor to be in the classroom for only 200 hours a year, and that's hardly a tough assignment.
We can hear the yelping from the professors that this will interfere with their research mission. First, nearly all the research is done by only 20% of the faculty. Second, how about asking professors to do the work week that others professionals do: 9 to 5 for five days a week for 48 weeks a year. And third, much research consists of obscure articles published in even more obscure journals on topics of trivial importance. If professors published fewer articles and did more teaching, we could make college more affordable.
Most colleges are reluctant to spread information about themselves, their policies, and their faculty and other employees. It's time to change that. There's no better place to start than by closely examining the work load of those who receive the lion's share of university budgets.
Listen to the radio commentary here: