There was an interesting post by Stephen Dubner, author of “Freakonomics” and “SuperFreakonomics,” that questioned why university tuition goes up exponentially seemingly all the time. He questions why university tuition inflation is double the general rate of inflation and seeks to get to the bottom of this mystery. The “Freakonomics” authors rarely have trouble posing a theory as to a causation so to formulate their theory on college tuition hikes, they draw on data discussed by “New York Times” writer Tamar Lewin:
Writes Lewin, “Over the last two decades, colleges and universities doubled their full-time support staff while enrollment increased only 40 percent, according to a new analysis of government data by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity, a nonprofit research center. During the same period, the staff of full-time instructors, or equivalent personnel, rose about 50 percent, while the number of managers increased slightly more than 50 percent. The data, based on United States Department of Education filings from more than 2,782 colleges, come from 1987 to 2007, before the current recession prompted many colleges to freeze their hiring.”
And therein lies the theory Stephen Dubner ascribes to: support staff. College tuition goes up and up and up because of the increased need for more and more support staff! And what kinds of support staff? IT. That makes sense. Loan counselors. Ok, that makes sense too if the college tuition keeps rising. Environmental sustainability officers. Hmmm, how many of these folks do colleges employ?
And check out our post on Ivy League Tuition Costs.