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« Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 929 -- Foreclosure Rates Tell A Tale Of Texas' Awesomeness. | WILLisms.com | Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 931 -- Right To Work States Versus Forced Union States. And Then There's Texas. »

Trivia Tidbit of the Day: Part 930 -- Productivity & Higher Education.

Room For Improvement At The University of Texas at Austin-

An interesting new study out today highlights the vast disparities in teaching and research at UT:

Looking only at the UT Austin campus, if the 80 percent of the faculty with the lowest teaching loads were to teach just half as much as the 20 percent with the highest loads, and if the savings were dedicated to tuition reduction, tuition could be cut by more than half (or, alternatively, state appropriations could be reduced even more—by as much as 75 percent). Moreover, other data suggest a strategy of reemphasizing the importance of the undergraduate teaching function can be done without importantly reducing outside research funding or productivity.


* 20 percent of UT Austin faculty are teaching 57 percent of student credit hours. They also generate 18 percent of the campus’s research funding. This suggests that these faculty are not jeopardizing their status as researchers by assuming such a high level of teaching responsibility.

* Conversely, the least productive 20 percent of faculty teach only 2 percent of all student credit hours and generate a disproportionately smaller percentage of external research funding than do other faculty segments.

* Research grant funds go almost entirely (99.8 percent) to a small minority (20 percent) of the faculty; only 2 percent of the faculty conduct 57 percent of funded research.

* Non-tenured track faculty teach a majority of undergraduate enrollments and a surprising 31 percent of graduate enrollments.

* The most active researchers teach nearly the average of all faculty; increasing teaching loads of others would trivially impact outside research support.

Now time for the charts and graphs.

Teaching loads versus faculty costs:


Despite teaching 57% of the student credit hours, these 840 faculty account for only 28% of the total faculty costs at UT-Austin, or less than half of their teaching proportion. In terms of external research grants, these 840 faculty members generate 18% of the campus’s research funding –nearly their proportion of the total faculty.


Although this 80% of faculty carries a minority of the campus’s teaching load, it accounts for 72% of all faculty costs to the Austin campus.


Curiously enough, the explanation of such a low teaching load for the 20% of faculty with the lowest amount of teaching is not that they are otherwise occupied by research. Indeed, they bring in a disproportionately low amount of external research funding (13% of all external research grants)...

Another way to look at the productivity of the five quintiles:


Maybe this is just how any organization is-- the top quintile carries the rest of the group, but that's not an excuse for just letting it persist.

The excuse for data showing so many non-teaching professors was that they were busy doing research. Unfortunately, there may not as much research going on as we were made to believe:

20% of the faculty at UT-Austin accounts for over 99.8% of all research dollars; 10% of the faculty account for 91.2% of all research dollars at the University. Whereas 57% of the teaching is done by 20% of the faculty, in terms of externally funded research, roughly only 2% of the faculty conducts 57% of the funded research.

I am sure there are plenty of anecdotal exceptions to these data. I am sure there are some brilliant professors who do remarkable things that somehow don't show up in the data. That may very well be the case, and more analysis is probably needed to explain those exceptions, but this study is a great first step toward improving the efficiency at our big public institutions of learning.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Foreclosure Rates.

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Posted by Will Franklin · 23 May 2011 03:21 PM


fantastic site

Posted by: ROGER at June 17, 2011 01:55 AM