A Portrait of Part-Time Faculty Members is a report on the duties and pay of adjunct university faculty. Adjunct faculty is what colleges and universities call temp or part-time professors.
According to the report, there are about 1.8 million faculty members working at two and four year degree granting institutions in the U.S. Of those, more than 1.3 million (75%) are in contingent positions - meaning not tenured or on the tenure track.
For those not familiar with academic jobs, there are two tracks. Tenured professors are almost impossible to fire and, generally speaking, are well paid and have excellent benefit packages. Most schools grant tenure after 5-7 years process, but only to those on the tenure track.
Adjuncts - the other track - are not well paid and generally have little or no job security or benefits.
The report covers the result of a survey of academic freelancers (the adjuncts). Some of the key findings are:
- The median pay per course is $2,700.
- Most teach only 1 or 2 course per term.
- 2 out 3 report a personal annual income of $45,000 or less
As we noted in a prior article - Academic Freelancer Woes - we think we're at the beginnings of a fundamental shift in higher education. Key quote:
But just as fields like journalism have been hit with oversupply and the shift to freelancers, so is academia ... We think the shift away from tenure is just beginning. Many colleges and universities are in financial trouble, which means more temp faculty members. And the Internet is just starting to impact higher education. As Internet based learning expands, it's very likely the demand for college professors will fall.