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Precarity, Contingency

From the report: Over the last generation, the instructional staffing system in American higher education has experienced a significant reduction in the proportion of jobs for full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty members and a dramatic growth in fixed-term full- and part-time instructional jobs without tenure. About 70 percent of the people teaching in college today hold these temporary jobs and are known as “contingent” faculty and instructors. Particularly in the case of part-time/adjunct faculty members, contingent instructors receive disproportionately low pay and inadequate employment benefits such as pensions and health insurance.

This report extends previous research on these trends. Specifically, it describes how public colleges and universities employ and compensate both full- and part-time faculty members to staff undergraduate courses. It provides a national overview of who is teaching which courses, and at what salary, in public colleges and universities. The results document the system-wide switch to contingent instruction and the disproportionately low salaries associated with part-time instructional employment.

Reversing Course: The Troubled State of Academic Staffing and a Path Forward

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