Have you every been an adjunct? We all have! The bulk of this post is based on a recent article on the Washington Post (you can find the link to it and the other sources at the bottom of this page).
How many people are adjuncts and how common is it?
“Non-tenure-track positions of all types now account for over 70 percent of all instructional staff appointments in American higher education.” See chart here.- AAUP
“A 2014 congressional report found that 89 percent of adjuncts surveyed worked at more than one college; 27 percent worked at three schools; and 13 percent taught at four or more.” – Washington Post
“Part-time teachers alone represent 40 percent of the academic workforce, compared with 24 percent in 1975.” – Washington Post
“Pay varies widely by region, institution and discipline. Some well-heeled private universities offer as much as $8,000 to teach a semester-long course, while some community colleges provide as little as $1,500 a class. Even with a full course load, some part-time faculty live at or below the poverty line and receive public assistance.” -Washington Post
Why is there such an increase in the number of adjuncts needed?
“While many institutions are currently suffering budget cuts, the greatest growth in contingent appointments occurred during times of economic prosperity.”- AAUP
“Many institutions have invested heavily in facilities and technology while cutting instructional spending.”- AAUP
“Though incoming students may find finer facilities, they are also likely to find fewer full-time faculty with adequate time, professional support, and resources available for their instruction.”- AAUP
What are the drawbacks?
Students suffer, employees suffer
Academic diversity of thought suffers. “Critics of this model say it constitutes a threat to academia. A workforce that can be fired at will is unlikely to pursue research or explore ideas that could ruffle feathers.” -Washington Post
What can you do?!?
Join a union!! “A recently published book, “Professors in the Gig Economy: Unionizing Adjunct Faculty in America,” examined 35 collective bargaining agreements ratified between 2010 and 2016 and found greater job stability, higher wages and better benefits. Unionized adjuncts, however, still struggle to earn salaries and benefits comparable to tenure-track faculty.” – Washington Post
Turn it into a full-time job! Check out this post here.
Find valuable work outside the academy!
Keep your research skills fresh! Continue to go to conferences in your field!
Want to be an adjunct?
While we do not recommend it as a long term gig- it can be a valuable way to get extra income and to gain teaching experience. We suggest contacting department chairs directly (not going through HR initially.).
Want more info? Check out these sources!