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Sunday, September 19, 2004

Outsource university administration to India or China? via Philip Greenspun

Philip writes,"Nearly all American universities have experienced tremendous growth in administrative staff in the last 30 years. At most schools the ratio of admins to faculty has doubled. As this trend continues necessarily tuition prices continue to outpace inflation. Within our lifetimes it is likely that the cost of a college degree will exceed the cost of a twin-engine business jet airplane (in the 1950s four years of tuition cost about the same as a new Chevrolet)". I beleive that Philip is on the mark. The time for US universities to outsource administrative work has definitely come - the cost of US education is definitely perceived to be high by students outside of US -
Firstly, part of the cost benefits, if transferred to students on account of this outsourcing would help.
Secondly, universities themselves should begin to reward their faculties differently - stars should be paid definitely much higher.
Thirdly, the cost benefit acheieved on account of outsourcing should go to funding research and incubate more enterprises - The need of the hour for the US and the world by extension is for America to innovate faster, better on a large scale and foster entrepreneurism. This is a global necessity to improve the standard of living for humanity as a whole.. While, i do not know the potential of cost savings here, i beleive if the numbers are big, we shall see different appraoches that universities shall be taking to redeploy these savings. Universities now have to compete with online/virtual universities as well - whose cost structures are different. No escape for US universities other than to try outsourcing in a big way.
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