Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Academic Business Models

I have blogged about the problem of universities and where they will get their money to fund their expenses enough.  Here I just want to link to a piece about the rising cost of administration.  It makes perfect sense--those who make the decisions spend more and more on themselves and those who enable them.  It might be that 21st century universities are harder to administrate and require more resources, but doing more with less might not just be for faculty and academic departments, eh?

1 comment:

Jacob T. Levy said...

Since you were at ISA, I guess you lacked a sufficient number of theorists around to explain things like "correctly operationalizing your variables to measure what you say you're trying to measure." Let me help you out.

"Teaching and non-sponsored research" is a strange lumped-together category to focus on, since the it could shrink just because more research is able to find a "sponsor," e.g. from the Tri-Council. A shift from university-funded research to Tri-Council-funded research wouldn't count as a "cutback in teaching," but the cobbled-together accounting categories used in this article make it seem that way.

And the measure of ballooning-administrative-costs is that category's ratio to "teaching and non-sponsored research." So you could have *no change whatsoever in the ratios of teaching, research, administration,* but make it look like admin was increasing just because research was shifted from non-sponsored to sponsored.

Note that I don't think this is what's been happening. But badly-conceptualized accounting categories mean that these numbers don't add anything to the intuitions we already have about what's been happening.