Adjuncts in poverty
“Institutions have to be very mindful that if we simply tried to staff every course with full-time faculty that have full benefits, the cost of higher education at any institution would go up 30 to 40 percent potentially,” he says. “The public’s not going to accept that.” More than half the faculty at the University of Akron teaches part time. Ramsier says he’s sorry some adjuncts are struggling, but they know, or should know, what they’re getting into. “Part-time work is truly part-time work,” he says. “We’re not expecting, or trying, to take advantage of people.”
“Two-year and four-year colleges started replacing full-time faculty with part-time instructors in the mid-1970s. That shift has created lots of tension on college campuses where adjuncts are treated like cheap labor, according to a congressional report released last month. Initially, part-time teachers were popular because they brought “real-world experience” to the classroom, according to Adrianna Kezar, an expert on workforce issues in higher education and a professor at the University of Southern California. She says things are different today. “Higher education has begun to adopt corporate management practices,” Kezar says. “Corporations move to more contingent labor because it is a cheaper form of labor.” It’s certainly cheaper, though the amount depends on the size of the institution and whether it’s public or private. A full-time professor’s salary can average from $72,000 a year up to $160,000; adjuncts average $25,000 to $27,000 a year, andoften much less, regardless of where they teach.