Three Things Colleges Don’t Want Us to Know

Richard Vedder:

Universities are in the knowledge business, and the creation and dissemination of it is at the very core of what colleges do. Yet some forms of knowledge about higher education itself are either unknown, or hidden from the public. Why? Release of the information would prove embarrassing and possibly even costly to the school.
1. What Are the Teaching Loads?
This is prompted by an email I received from Bill Armstrong, President of Colorado Christian College and former two-term U.S. Senator. He is looking for data on faculty teaching loads and cannot find it. Going to the latest Digest of Education Statistics, I learn that there were 7,500 faculty members teaching agricultural or home economics courses in 2003 between the ages of 35 and 39, or that there were 1,959 full-time equivalent faculty teaching in Delaware in 2009. But in over 20 tables on staffing, there is not a word on teaching loads.
Why? I suspect the reason is simple: faculty don’t teach very much, and far less than they used to. I have been around higher education for over 50 years, and my recollection is that at middling quality state schools in the early 1960s, most faculty taught around 12 hours a week. At those same schools today, the average load is almost certainly not more than 9 hours. At top-flight universities, faculty taught about six hours a week in the 1960s, and often 3 hours or 4.5 hours (one semester, one course, the second semester, two courses) now. On average, we have seen at least a 25 percent reduction in loads.