Founded in 2006, The Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP) is dedicated to researching the rising costs and stagnant efficiency in higher education, with special emphasis on the United States. CCAP seeks to facilitate a broader dialogue on the issues and problems facing the institutions of higher education with the public, policy makers, and the higher education community.
Richard Vedder is Distinguished Professor of Economics at Ohio University, an Adjunct Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, Director of the Center for College Affordability and Productivity and author of the book, Going Broke By Degree: Why College Costs Too Much. . . .
Christopher Matgouranis is a Research Assistant at the Center for College Affordability and Productivity and an undergraduate student at Ohio University. . . .
Jonathan Robe is a Research Associate at the Center for College Affordability and Productivity. . . . (From Faculty Productivity and Costs at The University of Texas at Austin: A Preliminary Analysis (supra at 2).
Recently released preliminary data from the University of Texas strongly suggest that the state of Texas could move towards making college more affordable by moderately increasing faculty emphasis on teaching. Looking only at the UT Austin campus, if the 80 percent of the faculty with the lowest teaching loads were to teach just half as much as the 20 percent with the highest loads, and if the savings were dedicated to tuition reduction, tuition could be cut by more than half (or, alternatively, state appropriations could be reduced even more—by as much as 75 percent). Moreover, other data suggest a strategy of reemphasizing the importance of the undergraduate teaching function can be done without importantly reducing outside research funding or productivity. (From Faculty Productivity and Costs at The University of Texas at Austin: A Preliminary Analysis (supra at 3).
The most significant of these assumptions, a direct correlation between productivity in research and success in securing third party research funding, produces a substantial effect on the construction of data and the formulation of conclusions based on this data. Professor Vedder does modify the strength of the relationship and suggests the effects of this assumption on the results in Faculty Productivity and Costs at The University of Texas at Austin: A Preliminary Analysis. He tells us in this later essay: "Professors in the humanities and social sciences and other disciplines outside the hard sciences have a more difficult time garnering research support. " (From 'Yes, Some Teachers Do Very Little', supra). But he does not question the basic assumption of the identity between research productivity and the quantum of third party funding. It is quite true that for some disciplines there has grown a sense of strong connection between external funding and productivity. Yet there are others without a history or tradition of conflating external funding with research production or productivity. This is something substantially more than the suggestion that external funding is harder to get--it is the suggestion that in some disciplines the connection between funding and productivity in research is weak or irrelevant. As such, as a measure of productivity across disciplines the measure is unhelpful as a fact generator. It might, however, be helpful as a generator of policy pressure to change the focus of productivity assessment in disciplines that have failed to conform to this assumption. This sense of an underlying substantive agenda might be strengthened when one considers the possibility that there are other measures of productivity that do not abandon a focus on quantification: for example number of papers produced, reputation value of placement of papers, book production, invitations to deliver papers outside the institution, etc. And all of this before one considers issues of quality, a subject not treated in Faculty Productivity and Costs at The University of Texas at Austin: A Preliminary Analysis. . On the other hand, it is true that there are fields of study, important ones, in which the "culturally natural" focus on research productivity is indeed quantity of external funding. Yet to universalize the cultural habits of one field produces of effects-- from indirectly changing the work patterns and values assessment matrices of a field, to affecting the focus and development of research agendas to suit clients (external funding groups). One wonders if, were those funding sources to originate elsewhere--say Iran or China, or politically motivated groups of other sorts--whether there might be some considerations of the substantive effects of choice of assessment measure. As such, the universalizing of this measure can have a potent instrumental effect--a form of indirect governance through the techniques of monitoring and reporting. See, Larry Catá Backer, Global Panopticism: States, Corporations and the Governance Effects of Monitoring Regimes. Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies, Vol. 15, 2007.