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Coalition on the Academic Workforce Report Highlights Low Pay, Lack of Support for Part-Time Faculty

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Citing United States Department of Education data, the Coalition on the Academic Workforce says that more than 75 percent of the nearly 1.8 million faculty members and instructors who made up the 2009 instructional workforce in degree-granting two- and four-year institutions of higher education in the United States were employed in contingent positions off the tenure track.

Members of the contingent academic workforce — part- or full-time adjunct faculty, full-time non-tenure-track faculty, and graduate student teaching assistants, among others — "is rendered largely invisible," the coalition says, as there is only minimal information available on the working conditions these employees face.

In a new report, CAW presents the results of a survey it administered in fall 2010, which garnered more than 20,000 responses from individuals who self-identified as contingent academic faculty.

By conducting this survey, the coalition says it sought to learn details on the demographics, working conditions, and professional support for non-tenure-track faculty. A review of the responses it received demonstrates "how heavily colleges and universities are relying on part-time faculty members while failing to support them adequately," CAW says.

Among other things, the coalition found that "professional support for part-time faculty members' work outside the classroom and inclusion in academic decision making was minimal," that these faculty "saw little, if any, wage premium based on their credentials," and that part-time faculty earned a median pay of $2,700 per course in fall 2010, standardized to a three-credit course. While pay for part-time faculty varied between two-year colleges and four-year doctoral or research universities, CAW says that part-time faculty respondents reported "low compensation rates per course across all institutional categories," overall.

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