The role of adjunct professors in higher education…..

As we continue along under the current administration we will see shrinking operational budgets and increasing financial aid needs.  The article poignantly speaks about these issues such as with traditional “brick and mortar” institutions being challenged by “for-profit” companies who offer nontraditional scheduling and modality of instruction.  The current university state must adapt or risk being pushed out of the market.  One thing that is constant across the higher education system is the use of adjunct faculty to reduce tenured expenditures.  This is seen largely in community colleges and professional degree programs.

There was research in 2006 that showed community colleges with heavy reliance on part-time faculty had the lowest graduation rates.  This brought up the concern of:  how are the adjunct professors evaluated; are they able to obtain professional development; and, are they able to join a faculty union?  Obviously another major concern is how this mode of education is affecting the students.  Community colleges and universities that employ adjunct professors may be getting a better deal with their deduction in labor expenditures, but, the overall health of the institution may be suffering.


Cheers, Lehi



Filed under PFP2017

5 Responses to The role of adjunct professors in higher education…..

  1. sogandmhz

    Very interesting, Lehi!
    This is what I really have concerns about. Through the past 3 years, I monitor the academic job market in my area. every year, I found lots of open positions for adjuncts, lecturers, or instructors (part-time or low-paid jobs). There are very few job openings for tenure-track faculty. This raises two concerns for me.
    First, this is horrifying for me as a graduate student who is seeking for an academic job. Does it mean that we must accept that we never become tenure-track faculty members and must accept post-docs and other Ph.D. -level researchers positions as a career? What will happen to my dreams that I sacrificed my life for that?
    Second, what will happen to future PhD students? As you mentioned, this will impact the higher education significantly. I think adjunct/instructors are not going to do research or even care about it. However, Tenure-track positions may be expensive for the universities. They will bring value to the university, community, and students. I think tenure-track faculties are more engaged than part-time instructors or adjunct.
    Good job!

  2. dowlingm

    This is also something I’m concerned about as I consider academic positions after I graduate… Will I ever have a secure job that pays what I’m worth? The fact that new positions are being created (e.g. teaching faculty), this gives me hope that we might see a revolution of tenure-track positions that opens a lot of doors to those seeking academic positions post-PhD.

    • nordicgod

      Without a question looking forward we must consider all options for employment…even adjunct if necessary. Lord knows our student loans won’t care if we are employed or not. I think making yourself most marketable by including teaching experience, research experience, and service experience on your resume is the best bet possible. Cheers, Lehi

  3. That is a very interesting point that you brought up that community colleges with a high number of adjuncts have the lowest graduation rate. I wonder what the reasons are that these adjuncts want to teach at the community college level. Do they have a full-time job? Or do they need the adjunct position? I have considered becoming a part-time adjunct in addition to my full-time job.

    • nordicgod

      Yes, I’m not sure what type of survey was conducted to obtain the data with regard to adjunct professors and graduation rates but I’m sure it was extensive. I would assume they need a few jobs to make enough money to pay bills……adjunct jobs are low salary positions. Cheers, Lehi

Leave a Reply