Outsourcing of university administration

20 09 2004

[via too
many topics, too little time
]

Nearly all American universities have experienced tremendous growth in administrative
staff in the last 30 years.  At most schools the ratio of admins to
faculty has doubled. As this trend continues necessarily tuition prices
continue to outpace inflation.  Within our lifetimes it is likely that
the cost of a college degree will exceed the cost of a twin-engine business
jet airplane (in the 1950s four years of tuition cost about the same as a
new Chevrolet).

If colleges cannot get by without adding more labor per student why not
do as for-profit corporations do and add that labor in China or India?  As
noted in a
December 1, 2003 entry
, MIT has had great success outsourcing OpenCourseware
programming and editing to India.  Think about all the jobs at a typical
university that are done primarily via phone and email.  Obviously the
entire IT department could be in India.  Why not the registrar?  How
about most of the coordinating and tracking functions of the alumni office?

American labor is wonderful but it is a luxury that most American families
can’t afford.

Business idea for the young readers:  Start a university “back-office” service
bureau in India or China.  The folks who’ve done this for Wall Street
have been very successful (New Yorker magazine did a great article this summer
on Office
Tiger
, started by two Princeton alums).  Most university administrations
lack the initiative to manage staff overseas (or do anything innovative,
actually) but they would all appreciate the potential cost savings.  So
they’ll need a contractor to do it all for them.

Outsource university
administration to India or China?

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