By Richard Vedder
When researching my book Going Broke By Degree a few years ago, I was horrified to learn that the number of "non-faculty professional" workers per 100 students has doubled since 1976. When I checked the statistic again the other day, I learned that the ratio of this type of employee to students continues to grow.
Why? What are these workers doing? How do they advance the teaching agenda of universities, and promote better learning? Do they materially lead to more and better research?
No doubt some of these workers DO a very good job and even are "efficient" in some economic sense. But I strong suspect many of them are non-essential, particularly those contributing to new layers of university bureaucracies. They certainly are a contributing factor in rising university costs. This is a matter that needs further exploration, but the ultimate answer to the questions raised above depends on developing new and better "bottom line" answers to the most fundamental question of all: what do universities do?