The shift toward contingent faculty in the academic workforce is well documented; what’s less clear is the concentration of contingent faculty at different types of institutions, the nature of contingent faculty contracts, and the effect on student outcomes.
Higher Education Workforce Trends
Today, some 70% of faculty at U.S. institutions hold full- or part-time nontenure-track positions, and a return to the days of a largely tenure-track faculty is highly unlikely. What’s less clear is what future faculty models should look like.
U.S. colleges and universities have indeed increased faculty diversity over the past 20 years, but most gains have been off the tenure track.
The ability to forge flexible workplace agreements with faculty is an oft-hidden and under-utilized strategic advantage for colleges and universities.
Two-thirds of tenured faculty expect to work past normal retirement age—but their reasons for doing so may be based on faulty assumptions.
While they enjoy the work itself, adjunct faculty have concerns about salary, job security and retirement readiness.
In an era of severe budgetary constraints, colleges and universities have struggled to create new faculty workforce models that are responsive to the emerging needs of a new generation of diverse, nontraditional students. In fact, the traditional tenured faculty model has been replaced by a model in which part-time and non-tenured faculty play a more significant role.
The evolution of the faculty workforce model has far-reaching implications for colleges and universities, students and other stakeholders. Today, approximately 30% of faculty are tenure track. The remaining 70% who are nontenure track, also commonly referred to as contingent faculty, can be further divided into full-time (20%) and part-time (50%). Part-time nontenure-track faculty are also known as adjunct faculty. A range of individuals fill adjunct and other contingent faculty positions.