Wednesday, May 25, 2011

NEWS RELEASE: Data Shows Massive Disparity in Professor Productivity at UT-Austin

Attached and below is a news release announcing the release of a study by the
Center for College Affordability and Productivity
that finds UT Austin could
make tuition vastly more affordable by moderately increasing faculty emphasis on
teaching. We worked with the Austin American-Statesman this weekend on the
story published this morning. Note that the report is being posted online within
the hour and we will send the link once posted.

Dr. Richard Vedder, a study author and director of the Center for College
Affordability and Productivity, is available and located in Ohio but Senator Dan
Patrick, former Vice Chair of the Higher Education committee, has been briefed
on the study and is available for comment. Senator Brian Birdwell has also been
briefed on the study. David Guenthner at the Texas Public Policy Foundation
(TPPF); and Peggy Venable, state director of Americans for Prosperity
Foundation’s Texas chapter, are also available for comment.

CONTACT: Bill Noble / Emily Songy
Monday, May 23, 2011
(512) 474-2005
(512) 296-4651 Cell

Data Shows Massive Disparity in Professor Productivity at UT-Austin

If bottom 80 percent were half as productive as top 20 percent,
tuition could be cut in half

AUSTIN – At a time of alarming tuition costs and economic uncertainties, an
analysis of the preliminary data released earlier this month by the University
of Texas System shows one of the state’s flagship universities could make
tuition vastly more affordable by moderately increasing faculty emphasis on

The Center for College Affordability and Productivity conducted the study titled
“Faculty Productivity and Costs at The University of Texas at Austin.” The study
assesses faculty productivity at UT-Austin in terms of both research and
teaching by delving into the data on faculty compensation, teaching loads and
external research grant awards released by the University of Texas system.

“Our analysis shows that there is clearly room for improvement in terms of
faculty productivity at UT Austin,” said Dr. Richard Vedder, director of the
Center for College Affordability and Productivity and a co-author of the study.
“Simply by having faculty teach more students or courses, students and taxpayers
will benefit significantly by reduced university costs.”

The study reveals substantial disparities in the work professors actually
perform and the compensation they receive for their services. The data show a
relatively small portion of faculty

carry the majority of the teaching load, teaching a sizable majority of students
and while maintaining their research nearly at the same level as their peers.
A significant proportion of the faculty is far less productive, with small
teaching loads and little external research dollars generated. The data
suggests that increasing teaching responsibilities for the majority of faculty
would only marginally impact external research funding or productivity, while
significantly reducing the cost of a degree at UT-Austin.

“Given the rising tuition costs at UT Austin and other public universities in
Texas, this report clearly demonstrates how increases in faculty teaching can
result in significant cost savings to students, parents and taxpayers,” said
Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston), former Vice Chair of the Higher Education
committee. “All Texans, students and taxpayers deserve the best value for their
investment in higher education – a system where professors are engaged and held
accountable for their teaching productivity and performance.”

The study’s analysis comes in the wake of often heated debate on the value of
looking closely at teaching and research productivity at Texas’ public colleges
and universities.

“Our goal in conducting this analysis was to provide a resource for university
leaders and policy makers as they make decisions on enhancing university systems
to provide the highest-quality education at an affordable price for students,”
said Vedder. “The findings at UT-Austin are not unique as tuition and fees
skyrocket at public universities across the nation, raising the question of who
is really working to control costs for parents and taxpayers during the worst
economic recession in 70 years.”

Additional highlights of the study include:
* 20 percent of UT Austin faculty are teaching 57 percent of student credit
hours. They also generate 18 percent of the campus’s research funding. This
suggests that these faculty are not jeopardizing their status as researchers by
assuming such a high level of teaching responsibility.
* Conversely, the least productive 20 percent of faculty teach only 2 percent
of all student credit hours and generate a disproportionately smaller percentage
of external research funding than do other segments of the faculty.
* Research grant funds go almost entirely (99.8 percent) to a small minority
(20 percent) of the faculty; only 2 percent of the faculty conduct 57 percent of
funded research.
* Non-tenured track faculty teach a majority of undergraduate enrollments and a
surprising 31 percent of graduate enrollments.
* The most active researchers teach nearly the average of all faculty;
increasing teaching loads of others would trivially impact outside research


***Study authors are available to comment or provide remarks for radio
programming. Call 512.474.2005 to schedule an interview.

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