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Why are Recent College Graduates Underemployed? University Enrollments and Labor Market Realities

February 8, 2013 Comments off

Why are Recent College Graduates Underemployed? University Enrollments and Labor Market Realities

Source: Center for College Affordability and Productivity

Political leaders, prominent foundations, and college presidents have argued that the nation must increase the proportion of adults with college degrees in order for America to remain competitive in the global economy. Supporting those positions, some have issued studies demonstrating that there is a significant earnings premium associated with the possession of a college degree. That is, college graduates tend to earn more in the labor market compared with those with only a high-school education, a differential that is large enough to justify the expenditure of increasingly large sums of money necessary to finance a college degree. A less optimistic story points out that, while there are undoubtedly many who benefit —even quite substantially economically, from higher education, a not inconsequential number of Americans who obtain higher education do not achieve the economic gains traditionally accompanying the acquisition of college-level credentials. This study uses empirical evidence relating to labor markets to argue that a growing disconnect has evolved between employer needs and the volume and nature of college training of students, and that the growth of supply of college-educated labor is exceeding the growth in the demand for such labor in the labor market.

Hat tip: PW

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Faculty Productivity and Costs at the University of Texas at Austin: A Preliminary Analysis

June 8, 2011 Comments off

Faculty Productivity and Costs at the University of Texas at Austin: A Preliminary Analysis (PDF)
Source: Center for College Affordability and Productivity

Recently released preliminary data from the University of Texas strongly suggest that the state of Texas could move towards making college more affordable by moderately increasing faculty emphasis on teaching. Looking only at the UT Austin campus, if the 80 percent of the faculty with the lowest teaching loads were to teach just half as much as the 20 percent with the highest loads, and if the savings were dedicated to tuition reduction, tuition could be cut by more than half (or, alternatively, state appropriations could be reduced even more—by as much as 75 percent). Moreover, other data suggest a strategy of reemphasizing the importance of the undergraduate teaching function can be done without importantly reducing outside research funding or productivity.

Noting that the findings are very preliminary, the Director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, Dr. Richard Vedder added “the results are so striking that they suggest a reallocation of resources within UT Austin holds great promise as a way of containing soaring higher education costs.”

Other highlights of the study:

  • 20 percent of UT Austin faculty are teaching 57 percent of student credit hours. They also generate 18 percent of the campus’s research funding. This suggests that these faculty are not jeopardizing their status as researchers by assuming such a high level of teaching responsibility.
  • Conversely, the least productive 20 percent of faculty teach only 2 percent of all student credit hours and generate a disproportionately smaller percentage of external research funding than do other faculty segments.
  • Research grant funds go almost entirely (99.8 percent) to a small minority (20 percent) of the faculty; only 2 percent of the faculty conduct 57 percent of funded research.
  • Non-tenured track faculty teach a majority of undergraduate enrollments and a surprising 31 percent of graduate enrollments.
  • The most active researchers teach nearly the average of all faculty; increasing teaching loads of others would trivially impact outside research support.
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