Gregory Mankiw, the former chairman of the Bush Administration's Council of Economic Advisers, writes in the New York Times:As a reader points out, faculty salaries have almost nothing to do with student tuition. Ron Unz explained:In just the last few weeks, the economics department at Harvard, where I am chairman, has brought in six candidates to be considered for two assistant professor positions. Of the six, three are Americans, one is German, one is Argentine, and one is a New Zealander. ...
THIS competition from abroad may reduce the salaries of American-born economists like me, but it has improved the university, much to our students’ benefit. For one thing, such competition keeps down the university’s labor costs. Many parents are shocked at how high college tuition is, but it could be worse.
Harvard’s Division of Arts and Sciences—the central core of academic activity—contains approximately 450 full professors, whose annual salaries tend to average the highest at any university in America. Each year, these hundreds of great scholars and teachers receive aggregate total pay of around $85 million. But in fiscal 2004, just the five top managers of the Harvard endowment fund shared total compensation of $78 million, an amount which was also roughly 100 times the salary of Harvard’s own president. These figures clearly demonstrate the relative importance accorded to the financial and academic sides of Harvard’s activities.Harvard charges high tuition because of the economics of supply and demand. People ware willing to pay the high tuition, regardless of whether Harvard hires a foreign professor and pays him less money.
Mankiw does explain that academic economists do favor increased immigration because of their own political biases.
Update: In a NY Times op-ed, Ross Eisenbrey writes:
If there is no shortage of high-tech workers, why would companies be pushing for more? Simple: workers under the H-1B program aren’t like domestic workers — because they have to be sponsored by an employer, they are more or less indentured, tied to their job and whatever wage the employer decides to give them.