The numbers of supply and demand are out of balance in higher education, and with a surplus in doctorates and a shortage in tenure track jobs adjunct positions are becoming the go to option for PhD holders in academia. An infographic by John Kelle explores the unfortunate reality of adjuncts.
According to Kelle`s research, despite an average of 8.2 years of studying and preparation only one out of ten PhD`s are able to obtain their dream job in academia. Such a statistic is also related to a shortage in the availability of professorships in recent years, with an overabundance of doctorates being awarded and not enough jobs becoming available. In 2012, 140,000 doctorates were awarded and only 16,000 new professorships opened.
With fewer openings, adjunct positions have reached a record-high of seventy-six percent of college faculties on average, which also presents a staggering difference in pay. Adjuncts make an average of $8.60 an hour, and four out of five make less than $20,000 a year. With a low income and an hourly rate barely above minimum wage, more PhD students are turning to food stamps and welfare than ever before. According to Kelle, the number of Masters and PhD holders on food stamps has tripled in the past three years.
One of the most prominent causes of the adjunct crisis is the severe cuts many states are making to their budgets for higher education. States are spending $16 billion less on public colleges than they did in 2008, causing departments to cut costs and jobs in order to meet the demands of their smaller budgets. Yet, while states are cutting budgets, tuition is on the rise and so is the population of college undergraduates. There are 5.7 million more college students than there were ten years ago, and the lack of a proportional increase in tenure track positions means that adjunct faculty are picking up extra course loads, causing them to be overburdened while remaining severely underpaid.