Cutting faculty salaries lowers educational standards

The fact that the economy isn’t doing too well is stale news. Students have experienced the rough economy through rising tuition and a serious dearth of jobs and internships, have complained about it, and have finally learned to accept it. However, a recent study showed that it isn’t just us students and prospective job hunters who are being adversely affected by the bad economy, but the faculty of universities as well.

According to a survey conducted by the American Association of University Professors, salaries for university faculty rose by 1.2 percent this year — the smallest increase in 50 years. The survey also found that salaries decreased in one-third of reporting universities. In fact, the situation might be worse than indicated by the results, as part-time faculty members were not included in the survey. Many universities are leaning toward hiring more part-time faculty to replace tenured professors to cut costs. Furthermore, a number of universities also reduced funding for research, traveling, and sabbaticals.

While budget cuts at universities are a necessary part of dealing with the current financial climate, it does present a rather worrisome situation. The reputation of a university banks on the accomplishments of its faculty. Whether it be excellence in teaching or accomplishments in research, faculty members make a significant contribution to the university. Faculty salary cuts might discourage students from going into academia. Further, if universities continue to hire more part-time faculty to replace tenured faculty, the quality of education and research at the institution will decrease. Lack of funding for research will also reflect poorly on the quality of work generated by the university.

Although we understand that taking certain drastic measures becomes necessary in times like these, we also believe that reducing faculty salaries will have serious long-term repercussions. Universities should carefully consider all the long-term effects that such budget cuts will have before taking action.