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Reason Foundation

Higher Education Bloat: University of California Edition

Lisa Snell
August 17, 2010, 11:07pm

The Obama Administration has proposed billions more in higher education spending. Under the proposed 2011 budget, the maximum Pell Grant increases by $160 to $5,710 and would automatically rise by rate of inflation plus 1 percentage point annually over the next decade. The 2011 budget also includes the $10.6 billion American Graduation Initiative to improve and modernize community colleges and a $3.5 billion College Access and Completion Fund. And this is on top of an 80 percent or so increase in higher education spending over the last decade in real dollars.

You might ask what has the ever-increasing federal spending on higher education produced? Jay Greene, Brian Kisida and Jonathan Mills have the answer in a new Goldwater Institute paper: More Administrators. By 2007, there were 9.4 full-time administrators per 100 students compared with
7 full-time instructors, researchers and service providers.

Between 1993 and 2007, the number of full-time administrators per 100 students at America’s leading universities grew by 39 percent, while the number of employees engaged in teaching, research or service only grew by 18 percent. Inflation-adjusted spending on administration per student increased by 61 percent during the same period, while instructional spending per student rose 39 percent.

California which has a $20 billion dollar deficit and higher education spending at 11 percent of the budget has grown 107.7 percent between 1990 and 2009. It is shocking to see that California universities have increased spending on "administrative bloat" rather than instruction, research, and services. For example, the Goldwater report ranks UC Davis as having the third highest increase in administrators per 100 students with a 318 percent increase since 1993. By contrast the number of instructors per 100 students fell by 4.5 percent.  Similarly, UC Los Angeles administrators per 100 students grew by 66.8 percent; UC Santa Barbara grew by 106 percent; and UC Santa Cruz grew by 62 percent.


Lisa Snell is Director of Education


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