US pay rises fail to match inflation

Full-time academic staff in US universities continued to receive below-inflation pay rises in 2011-12, a report has found.

April 9, 2012

For the third consecutive year – and for the sixth year in the past eight – the increase in the average salary of full-time faculty members was less than the rise in the cost of living, according to a survey by the American Association of University Professors.

Compared with 2010-11, the overall average salary across public and private institutions rose by 1.8 per cent while inflation grew at a rate of 3 per cent. Academics at private colleges and universities received larger rises than their counterparts in the public sector.

In contrast, pay for the heads of institutions again grew significantly faster – for the fourth year running.

Since 2007, median presidential salaries in the US have climbed by 9.8 per cent. Over the same period, full-time academic salaries at doctoral universities remained flat, while they rose by less than 0.5 per cent at community colleges and by less than 2 per cent at master’s universities.

At a time when skyrocketing student tuition fees are causing concerns among parents and politicians, the AAUP report suggests that staff salaries are not fuelling the rise.

It found that tuition charges had risen four times as fast as full-time faculty salaries at some universities.

In the past decade, fees at public institutions have risen by 72 per cent more than the rate of inflation, while salaries for full-time faculty members have remained stable compared with the cost of living.

The withdrawal of state funding to public universities and the increasing number of part-time faculty appointments are cited as factors contributing to the rise in tuition costs.

The report raises concerns about the expanding proportion of staff working part-time, who are paid much less than full-time faculty.

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