EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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May 26, 2013

TOP HEAVY U As tuition soars, colleges add more administrators than students or faculty

Massachusetts universities and colleges say they’re trying to hold down costs but have increased the number of administrators three times faster than the number of students, according to federal data analyzed by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting.

The pace at which administrators have been added at Massachusetts higher-education institutions has also outstripped the increase in the number of research and teaching faculty and other instructional employees, by a margin of 2-1.

Over the last 25 years, the universities’ enrollments have collectively grown by 26 percent, while the ranks of full-time administrators have risen 75 percent, not only at private universities but also at some public ones.

It’s a large part of why tuition is going up, said Andrew Gillen, research director at the nonpartisan Washington think tank Education Sector, which collected the federal data and supplied it to the New England Center for Investigative Reporting.

During the same 25-year period, tuition at four-year universities nationwide has increased an inflation-adjusted 85 percent, federal figures show.

“Where is that money going? It’s going to fund these bureaucratic empires,” Gillen said.

While they concede that the number of administrators is on the rise, university officials said the increased hiring is in response to government regulation and greater requirements from students for support services.

“The demands of educating students haven’t gotten less. They’ve gotten more,” said Matt Hamill, senior vice president of the National Association of College and University Business Officers.

These include remedial services, mental-health counseling, and other support functions, he said — “all kinds of things that students are demonstrating the need for if they’re going to be successful.”

In all, Massachusetts’ 116 universities and colleges have collectively added almost 51,000 employees in the last 25 years, or eight per working day.

Universities have gone from one full-time employee for every five students during this period to one for every four, and the number of administrators from one for every 47 students to one for every 35, the data show.

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