Arizona’s three state universities spend too much on administrative costs, driving up the price of a college education, the Phoenix-based Goldwater Institute said in a study released Tuesday.
Arizona State University has increased the number of administrators since 1993 by 94 percent, to 6.3 administrators per 100 students, while Northern Arizona University increased the number of full-time administrators per student by 36 percent and the University of Arizona increased its ratio by nearly 46 percent, the conservative watchdog group said in the report.
The rapid increase in administrative expenses is a big part of the rising cost of higher education, institute argued. The organization calls for a reduction in government subsidies as a way of forcing universities to become more efficient.
“Higher education needs to admit they have a problem of administrative bloat,” said Jay Greene, the report’s author and head of the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas.
The three schools call the report flawed because it included academic advisers, computer specialists, librarians and loan counselors — all positions considered administrative by the Goldwater Institute, but not the universities.
ASU President Michael Crow said the report is inaccurate because the conclusions are based on statistics reported to the federal government that have nothing to do with the school’s actual operation.
“Reading a federal report is not research,” he said.
Crow said public-policy debate is welcome, but “we like it to be based on reality.”
From 1993 to 2007, the number of full-time administrators for every 100 students increased 39 percent at public universities, the Goldwater study found.
In 2007, public universities averaged 7.9 full-time administrators for every 100 students.
Crow takes issue with the study ending in 2007 because it fails to take into account state budget cuts in recent years.
Since then, ASU has cut $15 million a year in administrative costs by combining some academic departments, Crow said.