There are many criteria that go into determining a university’s overall rank and reputation, but the three biggies are research, student, and staff quality. These are measured though a variety of means. Academic research, for example, is determined primarily through the annual research expenditure, though number of publications plays a role as well. Faculty quality is determined through tenure to non-tenure ratio, publication, and student satisfaction. Student quality is mostly a measure on entry standards and drop-out and graduation rates.
Sadly, all three of these criteria are starting to slowly drop. Many public universities are experiencing a steady decline in these quality standards, and there’s no clear cut reason why. Instead, the accumulation of multiple factors are negatively reflected in one or more of these areas.
For example, the decrease in funding makes it difficult for schools to hire high-quality teachers. They substitute for part-time lecturers who simply do not have the education and experienced many tenured faculty do. Though tenure is a touchy issue, research shows that students with adjunct (non-tenured part-time or full-time faculty) heavy classes in their first semester are less likely to return to school. Schools with lower tenure to non-tenure faculty ratios also support a lower graduation rate.
Insufficient funding also makes it difficult for universities to hire enough faculty. Many universities have had to resort to laying off non-tenured faculty to try to cover the gap left in federal financial support. As a result, some classrooms may become too crowded, and overcrowded classrooms are often unsatisfactory to students who want a more personal education. In this case, the teaching quality has less to do with the teachers being inexperienced, but more to do with a bad situation, one they cannot get out of and must bear the consequences.
Check out the details on our upcoming webinar, where we’ll be discussing these topics more in-depth and provide proven tactics to overcome them.