December 7, 2023

Keeping Media and Government Accountable.

Big Potential for Cost Savings at Kansas Universities

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We’re #1 – in hiring.

An analysis of staffing levels prepared by Kansas Policy Institute (KPI) shows the University of Kansas appears to be far and away the most inefficient in staffing of the six Regents universities in the State of Kansas.  And given the desire of some legislators to find cost savings in the state budget to avoid more tax increases, some of the startling variances may well indicate potential for significant savings.

As the numbers below show, KU has the worst student-per-staff in the most categories.

KPI President Dave Trabert gathered the raw numbers from the Regent’s Databook, including the fiscal year 2017 data for budgeted positions and full time enrollment in the fall of 2016.  He confirmed that the Regents reflect budgeted positions in full time equivalents.

KU has 2,545 Instruction positions budgeted for 22,726 full time equivalent students, or 8.9 students for each position, which is the worst among the six universities.  Fort Hays State University has the best ratio at 22.7 students-per-Instructor position but FHSU also has a large online program that likely impacts their ratio.  Kansas State and Wichita State may be more apples-to-apples comparisons but they still have far better ratios, at 13.7 and 17.2 students-per-position, respectively.

Understandably, universities boast of their low student-to-instructor ratio. Still, it’s fair to question the incremental value and/or necessity of having so many more employees . But no university boasts of its administrator-to-student ratio, and again KU’s is low, in this case disturbingly low. At 63 students per administrative employee, KU has roughly three times as many administrators per student as does Fort Hays State, with 185 students per administrative staffer. KU also has nearly 60 percent more administrators per student than does K-State.

“To put the numbers in perspective,” says Trabert, “if KU had the same ratio of students-to-Instruction employees as does Wichita State, they would have 1,223 fewer Instruction employees. If KU had the same ratio as FHSU on Administration, they would have 237 fewer administrators. And at K-State’s ratio for Academic Support, they would have 185 fewer employees.”

The Sentinel has been documenting some of the areas in which administration costs are inflated with little if any benefit to the student body. Over the past several decades administration costs at universities nationwide have been greatly outpacing faculty salaries.

“There are some understandable variances from one university to the next,” Trabert says.  “K-State is a land grant university and therefore has more employees in Public Services and University Support Staff in fulfillment of their mission.  But legislators should carefully examine staffing levels as a means of controlling tax and tuition increases.  After all, university staffing is part of the reason that Kansas has 27 percent more state employees per-capita than the national average.”

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