Colleges and universities struggling with dwindling budgets and smaller endowments are increasingly turning to outsourcing faculty in order to cut costs.
“Colleges and universities have effectively been outsourcing instruction for decades now by utilizing part-time and adjunct faculty members,” says Craig Smith, deputy director of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Higher Education Division. “However, as college costs continue to rise and as a result student debt after college becomes unmanageable, more and more students and their families are beginning to ask why increased cost is occurring at the same time as investment in direct instruction has decreased.”
With high unemployment and an average state budget shortfall estimate of –16.9%, most state public universities faced significant budget cuts for the 2011 school year, according to a study conducted by US News and World Reports.
Both Florida Atlantic University and Missouri State University recently partnered with the Poynter Institute, a non-profit journalism training group, to outsource their online journalism classes.
“FAU's decision to participate in the pilot program was based on the forward-looking vision of its journalism program, with its focus on multimedia journalism in a convergent digital media landscape,” says Eric Freedman, assistant dean of the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters at Florida Atlantic University.
Although colleges argue that outsourcing professors and academic programs are beneficial to both the students and the school, some worry this cost-saving measure can taint a school’s reputation and take away from the students’ learning experience.
What this means for schools
While Missouri State University decided not to continue its relationship with Poynter because students weren’t writing as much as it wanted, the school isn’t giving up on outsourcing staff.