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A Growing Higher Ed Workforce

January 6, 2006

The number of people who work in higher education grew by about 4.4 percent from 2003 to 2004, to a total of more than 3.3 million, according to a new report by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics. Most of the growth occurred at public universities and at for-profit colleges, and much of it came among employees who provide instruction rather than among administrators.

The report, "Employees in Postsecondary Institutions, Fall 2004, and Salaries of Full-Time Instructional Faculty, 2004–05," finds that the number of employees at American colleges that grant federal financial aid through the Education Department's Title IV programs rose to 3,335,093 in fall 2004, up from 3,194,610 in fall 2003. Of the more than 3.3 million employees in 2004, about two-thirds -- 2,162,081 -- worked full time and 1,173,012 worked part time.

Far more employees worked at public colleges and universities, which enroll by far the greatest number of students. About 90 percent of the staff growth took place in public institutions and for-profit institutions, as the following table shows:

Employees at American Colleges that Award Federal Financial Aid, by Institution Type, 2003-4

Institution type 2004 Employees 2003 Employees
All institutions 3,355,093 3,194,610
Public 2,221,224 2,163,264
Private nonprofit 958,663 936,845
Private for-profit 155,206 94,501

Much has been written and said about administrative bloat in American higher education, but a majority of the growth that occurred between 2003 and 2004, at least, came among those who in some way teach students. Of the employee increase of 140,483, nearly 80,000 were either instructional faculty members or graduate teaching assistants.

Employees at American Colleges That Award Federal Aid, by Job Duties, 2003-4

Job duties 2004 2003 % Change
Total 3,335,093 3,194,610 4.4%
Primarily instruction 951,869 888,656 7.1
Instruction/research/public service 257,954 249,429 3.4
Primarily research 46,732 46,993 -0.6
Primarily public service 19,933 19,045 4.7
Executive/administrative 194,351 183,416 6.0
Support/service 644,887 605,285 6.5
Graduate assistants 300,475 293,874 2.2
Technical/paraprofessional 191,176 190,099 0.6
Clerical/secretarial 440,668 434,129 1.5
Skilled crafts 61,945 61,231 1.1
Service/maintenance 225,103 222,453 1.2

The report also includes some data on salaries and benefits of full-time faculty members.

It found that the average nine-month salary for full-time full professors in fall 2004 was $87,634; for associate professors, $63,567; for assistant professors, $53,481; for instructors, $46,238; and for lecturers, $44,385. The figures were higher in most categories at private institutions than public, and far lower across the board at for-profit colleges.

The study found the following average benefits, adjusted to cover the traditional nine-month period, for full-time instructional faculty members in 2004:

Average Fringe Benefits of Full-Time Faculty, 2004-5 Academic Year

Type of fringe benefit All institutions Public Private nonprofit For-profit
Retirement plan (vested within 5 years) $6,325 $6,333 $6,478 $1,317
Retirement plan (vested after 5 years) 5,561 5,767 4,004 1,651
Medical/dental plans 6,069 6,308 5,7120 3,315
Group life insurance 208 191 220 416
Other insurance benefits 911 952 884 504
Disability protection 281 279 278 375
Tuition plan (dependents) 3,922 1,291 7,133 3,095
Housing plan 4,503 3,744 4,882 n/a
Social Security taxes 4,240 4,132 4,634 2,520
Unemployment compensation 238 199 298 563
Worker's compensation 481 471 500 497
Other benefits in kind (with cash options) 1,625 1,732 1,506 887

 

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