The Internet has been on fire for several days now from an article at Al Jazeera English entitled The Closing of American Academia. In it, recent PhD graduate Sarah Kendzior exposes the fact that not only are jobs in academia scarce – but actually two-thirds of professors are “adjuncts,” held in a precarious position of no health care and poverty level salaries. Some professors actually end up on food stamps while teaching for institutions that hoover thousands of dollars out of the pockets of their students.
Academia is now the classic Ponzi
The university system is now a classic Ponzi scheme aided and abetted by federal policy. It enriches the people at the top and depends on fresh suckers coming in at the bottom with dreams of a great return on investment. Compensation of top administrators has skyrocketed, routinely reaching total packages in the millions for the “talented” bureaucrats who can keep alumni money flowing and attracting new marks, er, students to sign on to the debt that pays for ever-increasing tuition. As the number of advanced degrees backlogs, the supply for potential adjunct professors goes up and (for those of you who remember Econ 101) drives compensation down to the poverty level. The students find out too late that the jobs aren’t there, and the payment structure on those five- and six-figure debts are all too real. And when it’s all over, administrators and tenured professors have money in the bank and fat pensions.
Hmm, little people at the bottom enrich people at the top until the whole thing collapses. Where have I heard this before? Charles Ponzi, Polka King Jan Lewan, Bernie Madoff, and…insert your alma mater here?