Texas Coalition for Excellence in Higher Education
has savaged a right-wing study about UT-Austin
, saying the study depends on "misguided analysis and misleading conclusions" to back up allegations of classroom inefficiencies. The Center for College Affordability and Productivity
(which shares a building in Washington, D.C., with right-wing think tank the American Enterprise Institute and conservative columnist William Kristol's Weekly Standard
) released a report in May using student credit hours as the "best measure of faculty teaching loads." The authors note that while the busiest 20% of faculty members teach 57% of credit hours, the 20% with the lowest workload only teach 2%. They calculate that UT could cut as much as 66% of its teaching staff and save $323 million in costs by adopting commercial ideas of productivity. UT President Emeritus Peter Flawn
fired back that "[u]niversity degrees are not widgets." The report does not distinguish between huge lower-division lecture courses and the more intensive upper-division courses with smaller staff-to-student ratios, nor does it account for hard-science courses, for which each credit hour represents multiple lab hours. Texas State Employees Union Vice President Mike Gross said, "We just think there's no basis for using credit hours as a way to quantify productivity." Meanwhile, UT contends with a 10% drop in state funding, from $778 million in the 2010-11 biennium to $702 million in 2012-13. That means the state contributes less than 14% of UT's total budget, down from 52% 30 years ago.