Given declining enrollment, one would expect to find a corresponding decline in the number of college faculty and administrative personnel, especially when considering that, historically, increases in enrollment have been matched by significant increases in employment at colleges and universities. However, recently released statistics by the Department of Education contain some surprising revelations.
While the size of college and university staffs declined for the first time after years of steady expansion, it was a paltry .19 percent decline of 7,500 between 2012 and 2013. Moreover, this drop was less than the 1.4 percent decrease in enrollment from 21.15 million to 20.85 million.
However, and perhaps more important, is that the staffing decline was limited to for-profit institutions, which eliminated or lost 38,000 positions. In other words, at non-profit public and private colleges and universities the number of faculty and administrators increased! At public institutions the number of employees rose, albeit slightly, from 2,534,848 to 2,548,850 (.5 percent) and at non-profit private colleges and universities, staffs increased from 1,145,340 to 1,161,424 (1 percent).
With the majority of college and university business officers questioning whether their institution's business plan is sustainable over the long-term and the looming financial crisis facing higher education, college boards and presidents need to take action before inaction compels the government to step in. One place to start would be to right size staffing at their institutions.