Phi Beta Cons

Justice for Adjuncts?

A new paper by Jason Brennan and Phillip Magness explores the treatment of adjunct professors at American colleges and universities—taking aim at Big Labor’s contention that adjuncts are treated little better than sweatshop laborers. Entitled “Estimating the Cost of Justice for Adjunct: A Case Study in University Business Ethics,” the article finds that simply increasing adjunct pay (as the SEIU and other pro-union groups suggest) won’t fix the problem.

In this article for the Pope Center, George Leef reviews the paper and explains some of the challenges to solving the adjunct “crisis.” One of the biggest is the oversupply of Americans with PhDs.

Leef explains:

For one thing, the people who sought PhDs in the hope of landing a tenured faculty position entered that quest knowing that the odds were against them. Our PhD pipeline has, unfortunately, become much larger than the supply that is called for, but that fact has been well known for many years. Intelligent adults who chose to place bets that a doctorate would pay off, but lost, are not in a position to complain of unfairness.

The paper also outlines the high costs and serious repercussions of simply increasing adjunct pay, as well as the obvious hole it would create in university budgets.

Read Leef’s full discussion of the paper here.

Jenna A. RobinsonJenna Ashley Robinson is the president of the John W. Pope Center for Higher Education Policy. Before becoming president, she was the center's director of outreach. She was previously the ...


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