The Adjunct Solution

Discussion in 'Online & DL Teaching' started by Kizmet, Jan 13, 2016.

  1. Kizmet

    Kizmet Moderator Staff Member

  2. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    I'm not unsympathetic to calls for adjuncts to take home more money. But here's where the author loses me:

    Many people in higher education pretend that it's not basically a service industry like any other, that instead it's on its own higher plane of existence where the laws of market economics do not apply. Unfortunately, the author is one of these people -- and these people are incorrect.
  3. StefanM

    StefanM New Member

    You are, of course, correct, but there are additional confounding factors.

    One glaring issue is that there is generally no price differentiation between classes taught by adjuncts and classes taught by full-time instructors or professors.

    It would make some sense to pay adjuncts less if the classes were at a lower tuition rate for students, but in reality, the students take the classes because they are required, and faculty are assigned based on other factors. It's definitely not a pure case of supply meeting demand.
  4. jhp

    jhp Member

    As a "visiting", I find this article very much in mesh with an other thread of "professors becoming more liberal". Moving south on the Nolan chart.

    Of course, the author destroys his own hypothetical scenario, and self labels as "crazy".
    I guess the the whole suggestion is about the author feeling good about himself, since it has no foundation in reality.

    As for salary, I am not sure comparison of adjunct pay is reasonable to a full time employed individual, working approximately 250 days a year. The touted $20,000 is not a full time adjunct. The average US household makes $51,939.

    I would love to see kumquat to kumquat comparison just once.
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 14, 2016
  5. Tim D

    Tim D Member

    This is also shown during registration. If you have a professor who is popular their classes fill up first. If I end up with an adjunct, I am paying the same price as the popular professor. I end up with same degree paying the same amount even if all my courses were taught by adjuncts and no tenured faculty. The University is the one who benefits.

    Furthermore, higher ed is and has never been a truly free market.
  6. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Well-Known Member

    This is where the author lost me. It isn't a distorted view of labor to consider that you should start cutting off the supply of adjuncts (I.e. Reduce the number of grad programs cranking them out) when there simply aren't enough jobs for the graduates.

    Right now, there are unemployed lawyers and lawyers forced into non legal work. There's a disconnect between academia and the industry it serves in that case. When it comes to adjuncts, the disconnect is not between academia and a separate industry but the industry of academia.

    A law school can lose its accreditation if bar pass rates fall below a certain threshold. But there is no comparable measure (or consequence) for other graduate programs. A school can crank out PhDs without a single one ever landing a tenure track position without a worry in the world.

    There are some PhD programs that, admittedly, aren't in the business of trying to mint professors (Union would be a good example of this) but there are simply many programs out there that do nothing but supply the demand for cheap labor by pouring more graduates into a saturated job market with diplomas bearing undistinguished names.

    I also suspect that if the school's relying heavily on adjuncts changed course tomorrow and replaced their adjunct pools with full time equivalents then there would still be complaining. Because the people who would now be without work would be lamenting that they couldn't even get a part time adjunct gig, however low the pay.

    The only way would probably be to try to reduce both the supply of adjuncts as well as the demand and hope, someday in the future, it would balance out to a lower level. What people seem to want is for schools to simply retain the same number of adjunct faculty and just pay them more. But that's unlikely. And the situation is likely to always be one where many get a little or a few get an adequate amount.
  7. Phdtobe

    Phdtobe Well-Known Member

    Do adjuncts bring more to the classroom than tenures? I think they do. As an accountant, My preference is to be taught by a CFO who holds a full time jobs or even a retired CFO than being taught by a tenure who has never worked outside the classroom. The stuff in the textbooks I can figure out myself. It is the stories of real world experiences of the prof that excites.

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