According to the Chronicle for Higher Education, colleges and universities are hiring more and more part-time and contingent adjunct faculty compared to offering tenure-track jobs. Due to financial budget cuts, more colleges of all types rely on adjuncts than full-time faculty. However, there are some hidden facts about this practice that students and parents might not be aware their cost of education is supporting.
Part-Time vs. Full-Time
According to the AAUP, most of the faculty classified as part-time actually teach a full load. Even if one college limits the number of courses an adjunct can teach, these instructors often teach at multiple colleges during the semester. This part-time status means that despite working full-time hours, they are ineligible for benefits and are paid much less than their full-time counterparts per course.
Contingent vs. Tenure
Contingent faculty is not a symptom of large scale public university. Even a college with a huge endowment and new buildings or faculty employ over 68 percent non-tenure track faculty. These faculties have little support and are often available less often with little incentive to engage with students on the level of full-time faculty. Tenure process assures that professors are judged intensely on their teaching practices and student engagement-adjuncts don’t have the same incentives.
Adjuncts don’t have the resources or time to stay up to date in their field and may not have the same level of research interest as a full-time faculty member. Some may even be high school teachers moonlighting as college professors, particularly in the case of community colleges. Adjuncts may have a lesser terminal degree than is needed to be on the tenure track. Even if the contingent’s educational background is on part with his full-time peers, he does have the financial or institutional support to continue in professional development.
Lack of Stability
Contingent faculties are subject to high turnover due to the lack of a long-term contract. This means that students may not have an established relationship with this instructor, who might not be at the same school for the following semester. This means that a student might not be able to get a recommendation, develop research interests, or have educational support that he needs to succeed in his time at college.
With over 80 percent of faculty being contingent at community colleges, poorer students are feeling the consequences of these hiring practices more than those at four-year colleges. It may be a way for community colleges to cut costs, but at what cost for the student? The bottom line is that the issues of tenure, expertise and stability have real effects that students are all colleges have to deal with.
“Increasingly, Faculty Members Are Part-Time and Nontenured”, Chronicle of High Education