I was recently made aware of a study (caveat: from 2014) indicating that, supposedly, US academic institutions have taken on non-academic staff at a much higher overall rate than the increase in the student population, counting from 1987 and unti 2011-2012.

Now, the think-tank which authored this study seems fishy to me, but I don't live and work in the US, so I wanted to ask for corroboration or refutation of its claims based on your experience and knowledge.

Note: Academic activity and number of students is not the same thing; information relative either to the former or the latter is relevant.

  • 1
    I'm wondering why you think a non-partisan, large thinktank is fishy?
    – Peter K.
    Jul 25, 2020 at 18:51
  • Nearly every university makes public the number of its faculty and administrative staff members as part of the Common Data Set; you can certainly check any sample that you feel would be representative. Whether any particular ratio is "overly large" is opinion-based. Jul 25, 2020 at 19:36
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    I’m totally sure that audit and reporting burdens have fallen dramatically over the last 33 years.
    – Jon Custer
    Jul 25, 2020 at 19:37
  • Not really sure being from 2014 is that much of a caveat Jul 25, 2020 at 19:45
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    Define "overly large". I'm pretty sure that such staff has increased, but so have services as well as governmental regulations. What to one person is overly large is, to another, just right. In many places, also, some services to professors have declined. There is less secretarial help available, and professors now type all their own work, rather than having it done. My doctoral dissertation was typed by a secretary skilled in math typing. I paid for it, of course.
    – Buffy
    Jul 25, 2020 at 20:20


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