As the average price tag of a college education continues to rise, many have criticized colleges for “administrative bloat” as one of the potential culprits. However, while a surface level analysis might equate increased spending on administrative positions with higher student attendance costs, experts have suggested that this may not be the case.
In recent years, the term “administrative bloat” has been a frequent topic of op-eds, blog posts, and critiques. In its simplest form, as defined by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA), it refers to “the increase in spending on administrators.”
When looking at the numbers on the subject at a glance, this correlation between increasing tuition costs and a rise in the number of administrators schools are hiring does not seem unwarranted.
According to federal data, during the period right before the recession to 2014, staff members at offices overseeing a system of campuses increased by almost four percent. At the same time, the number of employees in managerial, executive and administrative positions increased by 15 percent between 2007 and 2014.
Furthermore, between 2003 to 2013, many four-year institutions spent more on administration, student services and academic support than they did on instruction, according to the Delta Cost Project.
But what has led to these administrative expansions?