North Dakota University System Has Seen 40% Growth In Non-Teaching Employees Over The Last Decade
One of the biggest problems in North Dakota’s University System is that spending on higher education is growing at a much more rapid pace than enrollment. Below is a chart pulled from a university system report (including the 2013-2015 budget request submitted by Chancellor Hamid Shirvani).
As you can see, while full time equivalent enrollment has grown just 11.5% since 2003, general fund appropriations for the university system will have grown over 91% through the next biennium if the most recent funding request made by the university system to the legislature is approved.
This leads to an important question: Why is spending on the university system growing so much faster than enrollment? The answer may lay in numbers from the North Dakota Legislative Council (provided to me by Rep. Bob Martinson, full report below). I charted some of the figures, and what we see is a dramatic increase in non-instructional employees at the state’s 11 campuses over instructional employees:
What you’re looking at is a 3.54% increase in instructional employees (including full-time and part-time faculty and temporary instructors) from the 2003-05 biennium through present, and a 40% increase in non-instructional employees. And at the state’s two largest universities, North Dakota State University and the University of North Dakota, the number of instructional employees actually went down as compared to non-instructional:
At the University of North Dakota instructional employees decreased 8.5% even as non-instructional employees grew 23.4%. At NDSU the decline in instructional employees was 12.5% compared to a 44.6% increase in non-instructional employees.
And keep in mind that the university system’s budget request for the upcoming legislative session asks for, in addition to a 14% overall increase in funding, 150 new full-time employees including 30 for the university system office itself and 120 for the universities themselves.
But does the university system really need more employees? Again, higher ed spending is growing several times faster than enrollment. Administrative and other sorts of employees are growing much faster in numbers than the people who actually teach the students.
That speaks to a system that doesn’t have its priorities straight. Legislators ought to consider that when addressing the university system’s current request for yet another big budget increase.