Underemployed Faculty @UTA

, Michael Watson, Leave a comment

A study by the Center for College Affordability and Productivity shows that the State of Texas could save millions of dollars if instructors in the University of Texas system taught more students in larger classes. One-fifth of faculty at the University of Texas-Austin teach over half the total credit hours students take. The study also showed that a high teaching load by faculty did not necessarily decrease the amount of external research funding that faculty earned.

The study, authored by Richard Vedder, Christopher Matgouranis, and Johnathan Robe, showed that the most productive quintile of instructors taught 57% of total student credit hours taken at UT-Austin. The same faculty also earned approximately one-fifth of total research funding UT-Austin received. A lower proportion of the lowest quintile in teaching productivity received external research funding than in the highest quintile. The co-authors found that more than three-fourths of all instructors received no external research funding.

The co-authors found that depending on the application of savings from increasing productivity in instruction and the amount of such increases tuition could fall to as low as $3500 per year or state subsidy could be lowered by as much as 90%. Since the vast majority of professors receive no outside research funding, the authors conclude that increasing teaching loads would not significantly reduce total research funding for the university.

The co-authors generated the study from preliminary data provided by the University of Texas system which detailed the compensation, research duties, and teaching productivity of over 4000 instructors at UT-Austin. In addition to the approximately 3000 full-time and part-time faculty, the data included compensation and productivity data for over 700 “other faculty” and approximately 300 “teaching assistants.”


Michael Watson is an intern at the American Journalism Center, a training program run by Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia.

If you would like to comment on this article, e-mail mal.kline@academia.org