Document the growing role of the contingent faculty


Document the growing role of the contingent faculty

The percentage of non-medical faculty, “teaching staff” at public and private nonprofit colleges and universities who work full-time but are not tenure has nearly tripled since 1987, increasing relatively steadily from 5% to 13 %.

That’s according to a new analysis of federal data from the American Association of University Professors released today. The report also said that the number of undergraduate medical students, including those with and without teaching responsibilities, has increased by about 44% over the past 20 years, compared with only a 19% increase in the number of non-medical faculty a year. full time and part time. members.

“The numbers (graduate workers) have soared — they’re hiring more and more, but we don’t know how many of them are teaching,” said Glenn Colby, senior research scientist at AAUP and report author. “It can’t be counted at this point.”

Colby placed graduate workers in their own category, so apart from them, the report only looks at faculty members of the teaching staff. The federal definition of those says they are individuals whose primary occupation includes education.

“The U.S. academic workforce has shifted from mostly full-time or tenured faculty to mostly contingent faculty, including full-time nontenured, full-time nontenured, and part-time faculty” , says the report . “Over two-thirds (68%) of faculty at US colleges and universities assumed contingent assignments in fall 2021, up from about 47% in fall 1987.”

“The earliest we can confidently go back is like 1987,” said Colby, who said data before then is not comparable but likely would have shown even higher levels of tenure and tenure faculty.

“It started to become apparent that there had been a shift in the ’70s, early ’70s,” he said.

Reports that tenure is declining in the US aren’t new, but Colby highlighted the AAUP’s new ‘Academic Workforce’ tab on There, interested parties can look at the data in ways not shown in today’s report, and Colby said he plans to update the system online every year.

“This is the first time we’ve released a report explicitly pointing to that data website as a way to get up-to-date numbers, so we don’t have to release another report next year,” he said.

“If a reader wants to know what the numbers are for a particular state or region or whatever detail the reader wants, the reader can do that on that website, instead of producing a 100-page report that contains every possible detail,” he said .

Growing ranks of graduate employees and contingent faculty members continue to unionize, a method that can get them job protections and benefits they lack.

Joseph van der Naald said that the increase in these types of workers “is a choice by universities to switch to a cheaper model, frankly, so there is also a simultaneous decrease in the hiring of tenured teachers. “

“It means lowering labor costs, frankly, and part of the way to do that is to get graduate workers to teach more classes,” said van der Naald, a Ph.D. candidate who also teaches courses at the City University of New York School of Labor and Urban Studies.

To go back as far as 1987, the AAUP used estimates from the National Study of Postsecondary Faculty, a series of nationally representative surveys. After 1998, however, the data is not based on surveys, but on census data from the United States Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System.

These combined data show that part-time faculty have made up about half of all nonmedical teaching staff at public and private not-for-profit colleges and universities since 2002. for profit). Prior to that year, this percentage had increased significantly: Part-timers were only an estimated third of all faculty in 1987.

Full-time tenured faculty have made up about a quarter of non-medical faculty faculty since 2002, but that’s down from 39 percent in 1987.

And full-time tenured faculty — the pipeline to maintain tenured institution — have slowly become a smaller share of faculty, down from 14 percent in 1987 to 9 percent in 2021.

“The mandate is the primary means of protecting academic freedom and exists not only to protect individual faculty members, but also to benefit students and serve the common good by ensuring the quality of teaching and research in higher education,” states the report. “Overreliance on contingent appointments, which lack the mandated protections for academic freedom and the economic security of continuous appointments, threatens the success of institutions in meeting their obligations to students and society.”

Additionally, the report notes, women and “underrepresented minorities” — faculty members from the categories American Indian/Alaska Native, Black, Hispanic, Pacific Islander, and two or more races — are currently more likely to be part of -time and less likely to be tenured or on the tenured track.