Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

Faculty Supply and Demand in Education (1)

Academic journal article Journal of Teacher Education

Faculty Supply and Demand in Education (1)

Article excerpt

Throughout the 1980s and most of the 1990s, the research and commentary on faculty supply and demand in higher education focused mainly on an oversupply of doctorates and a restricted job market. Atwell (1996) described a critical mismatch between doctoral education and the number and kinds of jobs available for new faculty. Schuster (1995) wondered how long the "prevailing oversupply" would continue. D. G. Smith (1996) investigated the extent to which campuses were raising job requirements because of the large number of applicants for each position. Barkume (1997) reported anecdotal evidence suggesting that campuses were receiving literally hundreds of applications for every position posted, a proliferation of "gypsy" faculty teaching part-time, and postdoctoral students stuck in low-paying appointments. The general consensus was that there were too many doctorates being granted for the realties of the marketplace. This situation gave considerable leverage to higher education institutions and very few options to new doctoral recipients (Schuster, 1995). However, predictions were difficult to make because none of the existing national databases enabled a systematic investigation of faculty supply and demand or the tracking of established faculty and new hires by field, ethnicity, gender, and status (Milam, 1997, 1998; D. D. Smith & Salzberg, 1994). A lack of discipline-specific studies exacerbated the difficulty, and few, if any, studies directly addressed the field of education.

D. G. Smith (1996) attempted to study the reality of the labor market for new faculty by surveying new doctorates about their job search experiences. Although he found that fewer opportunities for faculty existed than predicted, 70% of the new doctorates did obtain faculty positions. The study contradicted several myths about the academic job market, such as an advantage for research universities over other types of universities, the role of mobility, reasons for leaving higher education, and the degree to which minority candidates were actively sought for academic positions. In 1995, Aguirre suggested that the increasing number of retiring White male faculty in the next decade offered an opportunity to increase the number of minorities in higher education, but in 1999, the Higher Education Research Institute reported that minority hires remained at a "standstill."

By the mid- to late 1990s, some of the commentary and research began shifting with speculations that the nature of the academic job market might be changing. In 1997 and 1999, Magner reported in The Chronicle of Higher Education that the job market for doctorates was indeed showing signs of improvement brought on mainly by a spate of retirements and a healthy economy that enabled previously frozen positions to be filled. She was quick to point out, however, that new doctorates were not automatically finding jobs because of the huge backlog of doctorates still looking for tenure-track positions. Schuster (1995) outlined a complex array of factors that might affect a continued surplus of applicants or might swing the pendulum the other way. He discussed demographic factors such as the increase in college-age enrollees and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasting high numbers of retirees, as well as the economic and political conditions affecting state support for higher education, the end of mandatory retirement, increases in immigration visas for professors, increased need for flexible staffing in higher education, and a potential technological revolution that could decrease the need for faculty. He proposed that how these factors played out in reality would affect changes (or lack of change) in the academic labor market.

Barkume (1997) cited the following two views of the academic labor market: (a) anecdotal evidence pointing toward unfavorable conditions and (b) labor market statistics showing more favorable conditions. She described the "pessimistic view" as indicating too many doctorates, increased numbers of professors allowed to immigrate to the United States, increased numbers of postdoctoral positions, and variations by field. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.