Update. Part-Time Faculty: A Look at Data and Issues RESEARCH CENTER NEA HIGHER EDUCATION

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1 Update volume 11 number 3 september Part-Time Faculty: A Look at Data and Issues The explosion in the use of part-time faculty has become one of the most controversial issues in higher education, and has reached the stage where fully 67 percent (two-thirds) of the teaching staffs in two-year colleges are part-time faculty members. Not coincidentally, part-time faculty members earn, on average per course, only 27 percent of what full-time faculty members earn. However, those figures do not necessarily mean that a student s chances of having a part-time teacher at a two-year college are two in three; the chances are actually closer to one in two, because part-time faculty teach fewer courses. It is also true that part-time faculty may not teach the same courses as full-time faculty, and data are generally not specific enough to nail down the pay differential. Nonetheless, the use of parttime faculty is significant at all levels of higher education, and has increased sharply from 33 percent of faculties in 1987 to over 44 percent in What does the increasing use of part-time faculty mean for advocates for higher education and for academic faculties? Issues of concern include employment status and opportunity, comparative workloads and compensation, union 1 This Update, including all figures and tables, draws on the National Study of Postsecondary Faculty (NSOPF) survey reports of 1988, 1993, 1999, and, in particular, NSOPF data are derived directly from the DAS except when the summary (Caltaldi, Bradburn, and Fahimi 2005) is noted. NEA HIGHER EDUCATION RESEARCH CENTER membership, academic freedom, and the quality and consistency of workplace conditions for faculty. They also include the overall health of the learning and research environments in higher education. This increase in the use of parttime faculty is only one aspect of the growth of contingency in the academy. This Update looks at issues of particular concern to those in parttime situations, but the NEA remains critically concerned about the larger issue of contingency and will devote future publications to other aspects of this issue. The U.S. Department of Education has made available the 2004 edition of the National Study of Postsecondary Faculty (NSOPF:04; for a summary, see Cataldi, Bradburn, and Fahimi 2005). The release of the data, accessible through the National Center for Education Statistics data analysis system (DAS), provides snapshot information on the status of fulland part-time faculty in Combined with previous NSOPF reports, published about every five years since 1988, the 2004 release also reveals a number of trends among faculty. 2 2 The NSOPF survey gathers information regarding the backgrounds, responsibilities, workloads, salaries, benefits, attitudes, and plans of full- and part-time faculty. In addition, it gathers information from institutional and department-level respondents on issues such as faculty composition, turnover, recruitment, retention, and tenure policies. Counselors, librarians and other non-teaching staff members on the faculty pay scale are excluded from the survey, as are teaching and research assistants with classroom responsibilities. However, faculty who primarily oversee or advise students are included, and have been included in the data reported here unless otherwise noted.

2 NEA HIGHER EDUCATION RESEARCH CENTER The data show that the use of part-time faculty differs markedly depending on the type of institution ranging from two-year colleges to doctoral-granting universities. The data also provide perspectives on the types of higher education institutions and academic departments where part-time faculty members work, in their academic rank, qualifications, length of service, workload, compensation, union membership, and other characteristics. This Update looks at the data to clarify issues around which unions, as representatives of faculty, can organize and to suggest areas worth of further research. Data and Trend Highlights An Expanding Role in Higher Education Employment of part-time faculty is a significant and growing part of college and university education at all institutional levels. Public two-year institutions continue to employ the greatest proportion of part-time faculty members (67%, as noted above), although all higher education institutions have increased their shares of part-time faculty since Figure 1 shows the trends. Figure 1. Percentage of Part-Time Faculty by Type of Institution, Fall 1987 to Fall 2003 (N/1,000) 1988: N = 254.7; 1993: N = 435.7; 1999: N = 456.6; 2004: N = Source: National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Data Analysis System (DAS), National Study of Postsecondary Faculty (NSOPF), various years. Employment Status Academic Departments The proportions of part-time faculty differed significantly depending on academic department in fall Faculty least likely to be part-time employees were in engineering and agriculture/ home economics (30% part-time each). Faculty most likely to be working part-time in 2003 were in departments of education (56%), fine arts (53%), and business (51%). Since 1987, academic departments have seen varying magnitudes of increase in the percentages of part-time faculty. Education has the highest percentage of part-time faculty and has seen the greatest increase jumping from 28 percent in 1987 to 56 percent in Humanities and the social sciences have also seen large increases in the share of part-time faculty. Engineering and the natural sciences have seen the smallest changes. 2 / NEA Update

3 Table 1. Percentage of Part-Time Faculty in Each Department, Fall 1987 to Fall 2003 Department Fall 1987 Fall 1992 Fall 1998 Fall 2003 Increase ( ) Agriculture/home economics Business Education Engineering Fine arts Health sciences Humanities Natural sciences Social sciences All other programs (N/1,000) 1988: N = 254.7; 1993: N = 435.7; 1999: N = 563.9; 2004: N = Source: National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Data Analysis System (DAS), National Study of Postsecondary Faculty (NSOPF), various years. Tenure About 96 percent of part-time instructional faculty and staff were not in tenured or tenuretrack positions, including about 9 percent who worked in institutions that had no tenure systems (Cataldi, Bradburn, and Fahimi 2005, Table 13, page 23). The percentage of part-time faculty with tenure or in tenure-track positions has fluctuated by type of higher education institution since 1987, but has ranged between 2 and 5 percent except for public doctoral institutions, where tenured part-time faculty fell from a peak of nearly 12 percent in 1993 to less than 8 percent in The percentage of tenured or tenure-track part-time faculty at public 2-year institutions increased slightly since 1993 but still barely topped 4 percent in In fall 2003, some 95 percent of part-time faculty members in public two-year colleges ranked below the level of assistant professor that is, as instructors, lecturers, and so on. The situation was little different for public four-year colleges, where 89 percent of part-time faculty were below the professoriate ranks. NEA Update / 3

4 NEA HIGHER EDUCATION RESEARCH CENTER Academic Rank Another factor speaking to the lower status of most part-time faculty members is their pervasive lack of academic rank. The vast majority were at the instructor or lecturer level or in other or nonranked positions, as opposed to the ranks of the professoriate (i.e., assistant, associate, or full professor). Since the 1988 NSOPF study, all types of institutions have seen increases in the percentage of part-time faculty in the lower ranks (Figure 2). In 2003, at doctoral-level universities, the nonprofessorial cohort of part-time faculty was 79 percent; at the public comprehensive level, 89 percent of part-time faculty were nonprofessorial; at the public associate level, this group represented 95 percent of the part-time faculty. Qualifications and Academic Accomplishments Part-time faculty members qualifications and accomplishments vary from those of full-time faculty. For example, in 2003, 18 percent of parttime faculty members at all types of institutions held doctoral degrees, compared with 60 percent of full-time faculty members. Part-time public two-year college faculties had the fewest doctorates, only 9 percent; 51 percent had master s degrees; and 22 percent had bachelor s degrees. The percentage of part-time faculty with doctoral and master s degrees increased slightly between 1988 and Table 2 shows the distribution of highest degrees held by full- and part-time faculty. Figure 2. Percentage of Part-Time Faculty Holding Instructor, Lecturer, Other, or Nonranked Positions, Fall 1987 to Fall 2003 (N/1,000) 1988: N = 235.2; 1993: N = 435.7; 1999: N = 456.7; 2004: N = Source: National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Data Analysis System (DAS), National Study of Postsecondary Faculty (NSOPF), various years. 4 / NEA Update

5 Table 2. Percentage Distribution of Highest Degree Held by Full- and Part-Time Faculty by Type of Higher Education Institution, Fall 2003 All 4-Year 2-year Degree Part-time Full-time Part-time Full-time Part-time Full-time Doctorate First-professional Master s Bachelor s Less than bachelor s TOTAL (N/1,000) 2004: N= Source: National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Data Analysis System (DAS), National Study of Postsecondary Faculty (NSOPF), As might be expected, part-time faculty members were less likely to have produced publications and scholarly works in the past two years than were full-time faculty. An unexpected finding was that among faculty members who did publish, the average number of works produced differed only slightly between part- and full-time faculty members. Part-time faculty were more likely to identify products such as nonrefereed journal articles, books and textbooks, or patents and computer software. Although these were less academic products, the results do suggest that many part-time faculty members are involved in professional activities outside of teaching. Length of Service Even though university administrations often cite greater breadth and f lexibility of faculty skills as a reason for hiring large numbers of part-time teachers, part-time faculty tend to have remarkably long service records with the institutions that employ them. In general, fulltime faculty members have worked for their current employer only four to five years longer than have part-time faculty (Figure 3). NEA Update / 5

6 Figure 3. Years of Service by Part- or Full-Time Faculty Status, Fall 2003 NEA HIGHER EDUCATION RESEARCH CENTER (N/1,000) 2004: N = 1, Source: National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Data Analysis System (DAS), National Study of Postsecondary Faculty (NSOPF), Workload Hours Worked The NSOPF includes both faculty who teach and those who oversee and advise students. Part-time faculty who taught exclusively spent between 13 and 19 hours per week on paid tasks, depending on the type of institution, and taught between 29 and 54 students per semester. Fulltime faculty members worked between 41 and 48 hours per week and taught between 73 and 95 students per semester. Overall, faculty at public institutions worked more hours than did those at private institutions. Proportion of Teaching Responsibilities Pa r t-t i me fac u lt y who had teach i ng responsibilities spent 91 percent of their time teaching compared with 61 percent of fulltime faculty members. This no doubt reflects the increased involvement of full-time staff in nonteaching activities, such as supervision of students, institutional governance, research, and clinical service. Across all institutions of higher education, part-time faculty members who worked in the classroom spent between 6 and 9 hours teaching for-credit classes per week. Full-time faculty members spent between 8 and 19 hours per week teaching for-credit classes. Both full- and part-time faculty at public two-year colleges had higher teaching loads compared with faculty members at doctoral-level universities, whether public or private. Union Membership Overall, about 18 percent of part-time faculty who had teaching responsibilities were union members. Another 18 percent were eligible but elected not to join. Figure 4 highlights the restricted scope of union activities at private institutions of higher education (a consequence of court decisions over the last 25 years) and shows that public comprehensive 4-year colleges have the highest percentage of part-time faculty who are union members, followed by community colleges. 6 / NEA Update

7 Figure 4. Union Membership of Part-Time Faculty, Fall 2003 (N/1,000) 2004: N = Source: National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Data Analysis System (DAS), National Study of Postsecondary Faculty (NSOPF), Note: Percentages do not sum exactly to 100 because of rounding. Compensation Among the most salient differences between part- and full-time faculty who work primarily in the classroom is compensation per class taught. On average for all of higher education, part-time faculty earned about one-quarter per course ($2,836) of what full time faculty earned ($10,563) in fall This means that, on average on a per-course basis, the part-time teacher earned about 27 percent of what the full-time teacher earned. The differential varies according to institution type, but part-time faculty earned less per course at all levels of higher education, as Table 3 shows. There are two caveats about comparing compensation for part- and full-time faculty. First, because the sample cannot be narrowed to part- and full-time teachers who teach identical courses, it cannot be said that a part-time teacher is being paid 27 percent of what the full-time teacher receives for teaching the same course, or even courses of equal difficulty or complexity. However, some overlap or teaching of classes of equivalent complexity is likely, especially in two-year institutions, where the range of academic levels is most restricted. Second, fulltime faculty tend to have more non-teaching responsibilities than part-time faculty. NEA Update / 7

8 Table 3. Faculty Pay per Course/Credit Unit or Term by Type of Higher Education Institution and Faculty Status, Fall 2003 (2003 dollars) Type of institution Average annual income ($) from basic salary from institution Full-time faculty Number of classes taught for credit in fall Calculated income ($) per credit class taught Total 65, ,563 NEA HIGHER EDUCATION 2-year college RESEARCH4-year non-doctoral-granting 52,937 55, ,882 8,181 CENTER 4-year doctoral-granting 74, ,838 Part-time faculty Total 10, ,836 2-year college 9, ,399 4-year non-doctoral-granting 10, ,773 4-year doctoral-granting 13, ,973 (N/1,000) 2004: N= Source: National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Data Analysis System (DAS), National Study of Postsecondary Faculty (NSOPF), Note: This table shows only the salary received for teaching forcredit classes. Varieties of Part-Time Experience Part-time faculty members are diverse and often different from full-time faculty. In 2003, faculty members under the age of 35 or over 65 were more likely to be part-time rather than fulltime employees (Figure 5). It seems likely that the lower levels of part-time faculty in the midcareer ranks indicate that part-time teaching may provide entrance into and exit from the teaching profession, that part-time teaching is a preliminary career or semi-retirement option from other professions, or both. Still, it is worth noting that in 2003 part-time faculty overall were never less than 40 percent of any age group in the total teaching workforce. 8 / NEA Update

9 Figure 5. Part- and Full-Time Status of Faculty by Age, Fall 2003 (N/1,000) 2004: N = 1,211.8 Source: National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Data Analysis System (DAS), National Study of Postsecondary Faculty (NSOPF), The NSOPF:04 data also reveal that in 2003 women were more likely to be teaching part time than men (49% vs. 40%, respectively). Over time, the percentages of men and women who were teaching part time have increased. The proportion of men teaching part time has increased faster than that of women. In fall 1987, 28 percent of male faculty were employed part time. This figure had risen to 40 percent by fall 2003, an increase of almost 41 percent. The percentage of women teaching part time increased 14 percent between 1987 and 1992, and has since remained relatively steady (NSOPF:04, NCES DAS). In 2003, the proportions of black faculty teaching full-time and those teaching part-time were not significantly different (both were 6%). Likewise, the proportions of Hispanic faculty teaching full- and part-time in 2003 were the same (both about 3%). Asian and Pacific Islander faculty members, however, were sightly more likely to be full-time faculty (9%) than part time (7%). The percentages of minorities in higher education s part-time teaching workforce have been increasing since The share of minorities employed part time had reached about 15 percent by 2003, an increase of 57 percent since The percentage of black part-time faculty rose from about 3 percent in 1987 to 6 percent in Part-time faculty earn income from a variety of sources both inside and outside institutions of higher education. According to NCES data, nearly half of part-time faculty (46%) held fulltime jobs in addition to their teaching work. Some 12 percent of part-time faculty also worked at another postsecondary institution, where they earned more than $18,000, on average. This suggests that some taught full-time at another college and others taught part-time. Current data do not enable us to determine, however, what share of part-time faculty teaches at two or more colleges to make a living, a major gap in the research. NEA Update / 9

10 A substantial proportion of part-time faculty aspire to full-time teaching positions. Table 4 shows that 35 percent overall and more than 40 percent in public two-year colleges would prefer a fulltime position. Table 4. Percentage of Part-Time Faculty with Teaching Responsibilities by Type of Employment, Fall 2003 NEA HIGHER EDUCATION Employment status/preference Total Public doctoral Private doctoral Other public 4- year Other private 4- year Public 2- year RESEARCH Only employment is part-time at this CENTER institution (exclude consulting) Part-time but preferred full-time Part-time employment is primary Other current jobs, full-time employment (N/1,000) 2004: N = Source: National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Data Analysis System (DAS), National Study of Postsecondary Faculty (NSOPF), Note: Column percentages add to more than 100 percent because respondents could select more than one category. Conflicting Aspirations and Realities? Despite what we do know about part-time faculty from the NSOPF data, it remains difficult to generalize because of the diversity of the group, particularly in employment aspirations and status. This preliminary look at the NSOPF data perhaps raises more questions than it answers. Whether or not part-time faculty members aspire to full-time status, unions have strong arguments as advocates for improved conditions and compensation for part-time faculty members improvements, for example, that would allow them to spend more time with students outside of class, engage in opportunities for professional growth, and gain the responsibilities and privileges of greater integration into academic life. These factors affect the intellectual and cultural quality of the academic experience as well as the livelihoods of faculty. European education unions are engaged in reforms to ensure these kinds of faculty freedom, security, and mobility (see, e.g., Education International 2005; see also Update, volume 11, no. 2). It would be unfortunate if the United States, now considered in the lead in higher education, were to pass Europe on the way down. NEA s Executive Committee approved in June 2007 an Action The NEA and Contingent Academic Workers in Higher Education: An Action Plan which sets forth the Association s goals in this area. The report is available online at w w2.nea.org/ he/ leaders/images/ contingentplan.pdf. The report commits NEA to closing gaps in the research as well as reaching out and organizing contingent academic workers in higher education. In 1970, contingent faculty were less than one-fourth (22.l%) of faculty in American higher education institutions. Today, among the majority of two-year and four-year colleges, contingent part-time and full-time staffing is the primary way of filling instructional positions. This trend leads to an undermining of the tenure process and presents challenges for maintaining or creating union strength. 10 / NEA Update

11 Bibliography Cataldi, E. F., E. M. Bradburn, and M. Fahimi National Study of Postsecondary Faculty (NSOPF:04): Background Characteristics, Work Activities, and Compensation of Instructional Faculty and Staff: Fall NCES E.D. TAB, December. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved February 1, 2006, from Cataldi, E. F., M. Fahimi, and E. M. Bradburn National Study of Postsecondary Faculty (NSOPF:04): Report on Faculty and Instructional Staff in Fall NCES E.D. TAB, May. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved February 1, 2006, from Clery, Suzanne B Part-Time Faculty. NEA Higher Education Research Center Update 7(4; September): 1 8. Education International Policy Statement on the Bologna Process in the Bergen Round. Retrieved August 29, 2005, from 05/050212_Pan-European_Structure.pdf. U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Outlook Handbook, Retrieved June 27, 2005, from U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Educational Statistics, Data Analysis System, National Study of Postsecondary Faculty, 1988, 1993, 1999, Available at U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics Digest of Education Statistics. Available at NEA Update / 11

12 Office of Higher Education 1201 Sixteenth Street, N.W. Washington, D.C Higher Education Staff Rex Costanzo Darrel Drury Aurora Arcilla Cathie Sheffield-Thompson Mark F. Smith Valerie Wilk This issue prepared by NEA Higher Education staff. To view back issues of Update, go to sdt NEA HIGHER EDUCATION RESEARCH CENTER

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