The Cost of Undergraduate Education at
a Research University
The actual expenditure for undergraduate education at the University of
California this year is calculated to be an average of $6,847 per
student; and the current level of student fees amounts to 100% of that
This result contrasts sharply with the figure $15,810 published by
university officials as the Average Cost of Education in 2004-05. The
discrepancy arises because I disaggregate undergraduate education from
the whole bundle of academic functions, which includes all levels of
education plus faculty research.
The methodology used is discussed in some detail, as is the actual
calculation. The main data inputs come from official University
accounting reports as well as a Faculty Time-Use Study conducted some
years ago. The implications of this result are also discussed.
Does it make sense to calculate the cost of
undergraduate education at a research university, as separated from the
cost of the other core academic functions – graduate education and
faculty research? That question is the main focus of this paper.
Such a separation of costs is not customarily
done (or at least not customarily published) by either the private or
public institutions that we recognize as research universities; and the
reasons for this will be noted later on.
So, why should anyone care about this?
At the leading public research universities
(among which the University of California has been a leader, if not a
role model), it used to be that state funds provided an almost free
undergraduate education of high quality to all eligible students.
About 15 years ago, this funding pattern was changed. Students
were asked to pay a share of the cost of their education, since they
received substantial personal benefits from it; but the state continued
to provide a significant subsidy for their education. Now,
according to the result reported here, that subsidy has run out:
undergraduate students (and their families) are now paying for all of the actual cost of what the
university spends on them. If student fees continue to rise, as
everyone expects, then we will shortly be in an entirely new
environment – one akin to private universities – where the
undergraduate fees are required to subsidize faculty research and
related graduate programs.
That is quite a significant turnaround, de
facto, in public policy; but it has not been publicly recognized as
The idea of “unbundling” the research and
teaching components of faculty work and reward has been suggested as a
way to increase overall productivity in our universities .
Such suggestions, however sensible, are not expected to be readily
adopted by established faculty or administrators. The present
paper, by contrast, is focused on a concrete question about existing
financial expenditures; and it also brings in a new party of interest –
the undergraduate students (and their parents) who now pay so much of
the bills at public, as well as private, universities.
Earlier study of college costs  encountered
a major obstacle in trying to separate out teaching from research
activities of the faculty (the so-called “joint production
problem”). In the present work, the availability of the Faculty
Time-Use data overcomes that problem.
The question posed here is primarily one of
accounting, an exercise in rationality. In Section II I review the
relevant basic data and terminology and in Section III I present the
methodology, with further chewing over in Section IV. Section V
contains the details of the calculation; and further discussion is in
Sections VI and VII. Three appendices contain additional data.
The question of pedagogy – Could/Should one
separate faculty teaching from faculty research? – is one that can
generate a great deal of heated debate; but it is of minor relevance
here because our interest is in Cost Accounting, not Philosophy.
Nevertheless, I state my own views on this topic: I believe there is
minimal connection between faculty research and undergraduate
education; however, I believe that graduate education in the PhD
program is mostly inseparable from faculty research.
Basic Concepts, Data and Terminology
The University of California (UC) has a
three-part mission: Teaching, Research and Public Service. All
three start with the work of the faculty, and are supported by staff
and institutional infrastructure. There is no difficulty in
establishing the total annual cost of UC operations – this is well
monitored by the accounting offices and published in the Annual
Financial Report: Expenditures of Current Funds. More details of
this accounting can be found in the Campus Financial Schedules (CFS)
 published annually by the University of California Office of the
Both the University’s accounting and budgeting
systems rely upon a set of uniform classification categories
(established by NACUBO ), which at the top level are listed in Table
1, along with the actual expenditures for 2003-04.
Table 1. University of
California; Current Funds Expenditures 2003-04
|Operation & Maint. of Plant
|Student Financial Aid
Source: Reference : UC Campus Financial Schedules, 2003-2004;
Schedule 12-I. These figures have not been adjusted (downward)
for Expense Capitalized or for Scholarship Allowance. This table does
not include expenditures for the three Laboratories operated by UC for
the US Department of Energy.
It is most important to understand the
definition of the Instruction category. This is defined in the UC
Accounting Manual  as follows:
This category includes expenditures for most activities that are part
of an institution’s instruction program, including expenditures [for]
• Subject A;
• academic, occupational and vocational instruction (credit or
noncredit courses), for regular, special, or extension sessions;
• departmental research and public service that are not separately
• expenditures for department chairpersons who are also instructors.
The definition given in the budget is even
more explicit (pages 77-79 of the Regents’ Budget for 2005-06) :
GENERAL CAMPUS INSTRUCTION
[“General Campus” means excluding the Health Sciences, which are
The general campus Instruction and Research (I&R) budget includes
direct instructional resources associated with schools and colleges
located on the nine UC general campuses. ... The major
budget elements and their proportions of the general campus I&R
base budget are: faculty and teaching assistant salaries and benefits,
57%; instructional support, 38%, which includes salaries and benefits
of laboratory assistants, supervisory, clerical, and technical
personnel, and some academic administrators, as well as costs of
instructional departmental supplies; and instructional equipment and
So it should be clear that spending for
Instruction is really spending for all the work of faculty members
(teaching and research and public service), along with supporting
staff, supplies and equipment at the departmental level. This is
sometimes referred to as the “core” academic function or the “core”
academic budget in the University. Instruction, the accounting
category, covers much more than just teaching.
The next two accounting categories listed in
Table 1, Research and Public Service, cover additional expenditures,
using specific (often external) sources of funds, to expand programs
beyond what faculty members themselves can carry out. The next
three categories (Academic Support, Medical Centers, Student Services)
cover important support activities; the following two categories
(Institutional Support and OMP) cover overhead services of
administration and facilities management: the last two categories are
either “pass-through” of funds or other self-supporting activities.
With this background of terminology, let us
now see what UC’s Vice President for Budget, has provided  as the
methodology used to calculate “the Average Cost of Education” at
$15,810 per student.
(I have separated his paragraph into three sentences for later
OFFICIAL UC METHODOLOGY FOR THE COST OF
(i) The denominator is the total number of General Campus FTE students.
(ii) The numerator includes direct expenditures for Instruction and the
General Campus share of Instruction-related expenditures, such as
Student Services, Libraries, Organized Activities, Institutional
Support, and Operation & Maintenance of the Physical Plant.
(iii) Public Service, Research and Financial Aid expenditures are
excluded, along with the Public Service and Research-related indirect
costs of Libraries, Organized Activities, Institutional Support, and
Operation & Maintenance of the Physical Plant.
This should be fully understandable, once I explain that in budget
language “Libraries” and “Organized Activities” are the two components
of the Academic Support category seen in Table 1.
This talks of “expenditures”, so I will use
the accounting documents rather than budget documents to get the most
reliable numbers. It says “General Campus,” so we are excluding
the Health Sciences. The direct costs come from the Instruction
category, with supporting or indirect costs from the other categories
mentioned (ii). This is explicit about which categories are to be
This makes good sense, except that the result
is misleadingly named: this is not the Cost of Education but
rather the Cost of the Core Academic Functions. This is the total cost of
Undergraduate Education plus Graduate Education plus Faculty
Now we are ready for my question. Is it
sensible to separate out from this total cost, the cost of
Undergraduate Education? Let me note and answer some anticipated
Objection #1. You can’t separate the various parts of a
professor’s job any more than you can separate those parts of his/her
In fact, this university has a very
well-established procedure for evaluating individuals for appointment
or promotion in the professorial ranks. The Academic Personnel
Manual  lays out the criteria for such evaluation in four separate
The review committee shall judge the
candidate with respect to the proposed rank and duties, considering the
record of the candidate’s performance in (1) teaching, (2) research and
other creative work, (3) professional activity, and (4) University and
It is worth noting that the criteria on
Teaching include the requirement that faculty keep up with
developments in their discipline - which tells us that this aspect of
being a good teacher is separate from one being actually involved in
research. Here is the relevant statement.
In judging the effectiveness of a
candidate’s teaching, the committee should consider such points as the
following: the candidate’s command of the subject; continuous growth in
the subject field; ability to organize material and to present it with
force and logic; capacity to awaken in students an awareness of the
relationship of the subject to other fields of knowledge; fostering of
student independence and capability to reason; ...
It is further worth comparing the criteria for
Professors to those for Lecturers, who are hired only to teach, not to
do research. The statement quoted above – the criteria on
Teaching – is exactly the same. One may also note that about half
of all undergraduate courses throughout UC are taught by Lecturers,
rather than by Professors, with no known loss of quality in the
educational program. (See Table 3a.)
Thus there seems to be little substance to
this objection. Teaching is an activity which is separable from
research without loss of quality, at least for undergraduate
education. At the level of graduate education, especially in the
PhD programs, there is a strong case to be made that the separation of
teaching from research – both on the part of the professor and on the
part of the student – is much more problematic. I share that view and
do not attempt to make such a separation at the graduate level.
Objection #2. There is no objective way in which to make a
meaningful quantitative separation.
In fact, this is a well-known issue in
Economics and Business Management. The subject of Cost Accounting
is well established. In a factory that makes several products,
one can assign costs to each one on the basis of raw materials; but
what about the labor costs of those employees who may work on more than
one product line? The answer is: Weigh their salaries according
to the fraction of their work time devoted to each product. This
approach (called Activity-Based Costing or ABC) requires the company to
conduct a survey of how their employees devote their work time.
In the case of the UC faculty, there already
exists a Faculty Work-Time Study , ordered by the University
administration about two decades ago; it was conducted by outside
professionals who had extensive consultation with faculty leaders.
Their results, as summarized in Appendix A, lead to the conclusion that
approximately 23% of faculty work time is devoted, on average, to
undergraduate education, as distinct from other work. (Appendix C
contains additional information which confirms this central piece of
Objection #3. That work-time formula may be sensible for a
factory, but the professors at a university are a much more
sophisticated and complicated work-force, not so simply measured.
Let’s look at an alternative measuring
process. As I learned from an article in The New Yorker magazine ,
the US medical profession has been subjected to a detailed
cost-accounting study on behalf of the federal government, which pays
for so much of the country’s health care expenses. A complex set
of formulas has been derived to give the relative costs to be assigned
to each individual medical procedure that doctors are called upon to
perform. For each task, not only the work-time, but also other
factors – “mental effort and judgment, technical skill and physical
effort, and stress” – are folded into the relative cost.
Certainly, professors’ efforts at graduate education and at research
work involve a greater degree of those sophisticated talents and
sufferings than does undergraduate teaching. So, in every
category – time spent, level of expertise required, etc. – the
undergraduate education would come out as the smallest component of
faculty cost; but the numerical value of the final outcome would depend
on how these different elements were weighted and how small the
undergraduate components are. I think a good case can be made that time
spent is by far the most important factor, i.e., should be given by far
the greatest weight – from the faculty’s own perspective. This I
would support by reference to faculty teaching loads as a most critical
factor in recruitment and retention of research professors: teaching
should not be allowed to take too much of their time away from
concentration on their research work. In conclusion, I expect that such
a more elaborate measurement of the fraction of total faculty cost
attributable to undergraduate education would differ little from the
simple time-only measure that I have used. In any case, I shall rely
here upon the best data now available.
Objection #4. UC’s Vice President Hershman has written that “any
attempt to disaggregate the cost of education will be based upon
questionable assumptions and that any resultant numbers will be of
little value.” 
Given any new result, it is proper to engage
in a detailed discussion of the many technical assumptions that go into
the calculation; and let us see what kind of rational conclusions
emerge. Section V gives considerable details on the calculation
(none of which have been criticized to date) and I am prepared to go
deeper into any related questions. An honest evaluation of the
residual uncertainties in any such calculation does not invalidate, but
rather better informs, the results of those calculations. Such an
intellectual discourse has been my repeated request to University
But, my colleagues will say, surely the
research work of this faculty must contribute some value to the
undergraduate education. If not, how are we, in the research
university, giving anything better than what undergraduates can get in
an ordinary four-year college?
My first (mechanical) reply is this: This
differential is already built into my calculation, since the faculty at
a top research university will get a higher salary than those at a
lesser-ranked institution. Of course, professors at a top
research university spend relatively less of their time at
undergraduate teaching than do those at a liberal arts or other
four-year college. (So, although I do not have the data to prove it, it
may well be true that the unit cost for undergraduate education is less
at UC than at, say, CSU.)
But, still, you may ask about some additional
cost that ought to be added to my calculation of undergraduate
education, in order to account for the “added value” that research
activity of the professor brings into the classroom. This
requires further explication.
I have already noted (see data in Table 3a)
that almost half of all undergraduate classes throughout UC are taught
by Lecturers, who are hired only to teach and not expected to do
research. There is no lack of quality found here; so “research
activity” is not essential at the undergraduate level. But I must do
some more economic discussion to make this issue clear. Let me
offer some model situations for comparison.
Model 1. Suppose I own a business, which has been successful, and
you want to buy it. We can probably agree on the value of its
tangible assets; but what about the intangible values of reputation,
brand name, etc.? There we can only argue and reach, or fail to
reach, some compromise.
Model 2. Suppose I own a business that has several products to sell.
How do I decide what price to attach to each of them? I can use
the methods of Cost Accounting (as described above) to apportion my
actual cost, direct cost plus indirect cost, for each product; and then
I can add some amount of profit to each one in any way I choose.
Of course, market competition may be an important factor in my setting
of prices. Also, it is up to me to decide if I might want to make
one product subsidize the cost of another. This is private business and
I don’t have to justify my prices to anyone.
Model 3. Suppose I want to create (or already own) a private
research university; and I have to decide what amount of tuition to
charge undergraduate students. This is analogous to Model 2: the money
paid by those students should not only cover the actual cost of the
education I provide for them, it must also support the faculty research
and graduate (PhD) programs. (Professional schools, medicine, business,
law, are other graduate programs where I charge high fees to cover the
total cost of maintaining their faculties.) This is, again, private
business and I don’t really have to justify my prices to anyone.
There is no profit motive here (however, see the critique by Sowell
) although there may be market/competitive forces that influence my
choice of tuition charges.
Do you see anything above that might be
applicable to the situation of a public research university? I do not.
The problem addressed in this study is the
following: Given the known actual expenditures of this
institution, we want to disaggregate, as honestly as possible, the
total cost of core academic functions so as to determine the actual
cost of undergraduate education. In the private sector models,
the owner can load on all kinds of charges to be taken in as profits or
cross-subsidies; but here we have a given total cost and the separate
parts of this must add up to 100%.
We now follow the methodology described above,
starting with the outline given by UC’s Vice President for Budget and
taking the portions appropriate for undergraduate education. This
work starts with the data shown in Table 1 and then digs deeper into
the official UC accounting records (CFS 2003-04 ) for more details.
First, we will extract the portion of
expenditures for Instruction that go to undergraduate teaching; then we
will add in a portion of Academic Support (Libraries, etc.) and a
portion of overhead expenses (Inst. Supp. and OMP). Finally we will add
in expenditures for Student Services (not covered by other types of
fees) and compare the result, scaled “per student”, to the current
level of mandatory student fees paid by California resident
Step 1. Using CFS Schedules B for each campus, remove from the
Instruction category the total expenditures for University Extension
($198 million) and also all expenditures by the Health Professions
($1,055 million), Law Schools ($39 million) and Business Schools ($111
million). This leaves us with an adjusted expenditure for Instruction
of $1,559 million.
Step 2. Estimate, using various data sources, the portion of this
$1,559 million paid to Lecturers and Graduate Student Instructors for
undergraduate courses ($180 million.) Then take 23% of the
remainder, for the fraction of faculty work-time devoted to
undergraduate teaching. This gives us the Direct Cost of
Undergraduate Instruction = 180 + 0.23x(1559-180) = $497 million.
Step 3. After removing the Health Sciences component ($549 million) and
some other unrelated items in the Academic Support category, we are
left with expenditures for: Libraries ($234 million), Computer Support
($43 million), Academic Administration ($197 million). I estimate
that half of the Library and Computer Support expenditures may be
charged to undergraduate education, along with one-quarter of that for
Academic Administration (Deans’ Offices). This gives an amount
$188 million, adjusted Academic Support, to be added to the result of
Step 2. (Comment: From the Budget , page 177, I learn that the
Library budget allots 57% to acquisitions and 38% to
reference-circulation. The first is mostly for research journals while
the second probably serves mostly undergraduate students. This leads me
to the 50-50 estimate used above.)
Step 4. Combine the expenditures for Institutional Support and
Operation and Maintenance of Plant, and distribute this uniformly, as
overhead, over all the listed categories, excepting Medical Centers and
Student Financial Aid, in Table 1. This gives an overhead rate of
10.7%. Adding this to the sum from Step 2 and Step 3, gives us
the Total Cost of Undergraduate Instruction (2003-04) = $758
million. We divide this by the total number of undergraduate
students (158,230 budgeted FTE for 2003-04) to get the Unit Cost of
Undergraduate Instruction = $4,790 per student.
Step 5. The total expenditure for Student Services needs to be
reduced by $109 million, the amount recorded for Student Health
Services, because this is paid for by non-mandatory fees for Health
Insurance. The net amount should then be increased by the 10.7% for
overhead and then divided by the total number of students (graduate and
undergraduate) for whom these services are provided: net cost = $1,858
FINAL RESULT: Add the results of Step 5 and Step 4 to get
The Unit Cost of Undergraduate Education = $6,648 per student (for
For the current academic year (2005-06) there
is a 3% increase in overall budget, so we can project this result: Unit
Cost = $ 6,847 per student in 2005-06.
The average mandatory fees this year for resident undergraduate
students at UC = $6,817 per student. This is 100% of the actual Unit
Cost as calculated above.
It is obvious that there are some questionable
estimates in this calculation and therefore there is room for better
data to lead to a more precise determination of this cost. Perhaps the
most sensitive question would be: How reliable is the 23% figure
derived from the Faculty Time-Use Study? Some data shown in Table
3b indicates that not much has changed in faculty teaching over a
recent decade’s time; and the additional data in Appendix C does
confirm this critical number. One might note that the Time-Use
survey excluded faculty who were on sabbatical leave, and that would
imply a downward adjustment from 23% to 21%. There is certainly
room for further study, and perhaps negotiation, on a number of small
points. However, I believe we are in the right ballpark with the result
This result, that undergraduate fees at UC are
now at the level of 100% of the actual cost of undergraduate education,
is new and unsettling.
One reason this is new (and a surprise to
many) is the awkward history of relations between public research
universities and their publics, the legislators and taxpayers of the
state that pays their bills. Faculty know that we are hired for,
promoted for, and motivated by our research work first and
foremost. Our academic administrators know that the legislators
and the taxpaying public are primarily interested in the undergraduate
education we offer. To avoid having to resolve that mismatch of
understandings, budgets are presented in a big package format:
undergraduate teaching and graduate teaching and faculty research are
bundled into one big ball – the I&R budget.
One can say that this was a harmless lack of
candor, since all of those functions, at the public research
university, were seen as “public goods” supported by public
money. What is new is the recent rapid rise of student
fees. During the budget crises of the early 1990s, it was quickly
said, and accepted, that students should bear some portion of the cost
of their education, since they gained individual benefit from it.
A public good was transformed into a private good.
The new question, not previously asked, is
this: Is there some logical, moral or political limit to how high
student fees (tuition) could be raised at a public research
university? A fee level at 100% of the actual cost of their
education seems to provide a most significant boundary. Beyond
that point, undergraduate students (and their parents) are being forced
to not only pay for everything they get, but must also subsidize the
other functions – graduate education and faculty research – which
undeniably provide broad benefits to the whole public, beyond the
individual student. One could call this selective taxation,
privatization, or any other name you wish; but such a forced
subsidization is something that deserves serious debate as a
matter of public policy.
While the calculation done here is for the
University of California (averaging over all its campuses) the
methodology should be applicable to any major research
university. The expenditures data and student numbers would be
different for another school, although the NACUBO accounting categories
provide a uniform standard. In addition, I would think that the
data from the UC Faculty Time-Use Study is probably reasonable to use
at comparable institutions because faculty teaching loads are a most
sensitive benchmark in the competition for top-quality research
Financing the Universities -- The Big Picture
The leading research universities in this
country are usually divided into two groups: Private and Public. The
self-selecting Association of American Universities has 34 Public
institutional members (including six UC campuses) and 26 Private
members in the US. It is instructive to note in what ways these
two camps are alike and are different.
The overall work situations of faculty members
are pretty much the same, since these institutions compete with one
another to hire the best research professors. This means that
teaching loads (in each discipline) are pretty much the same; and
salaries are not very far apart.
Looking at graduate students in the PhD
programs, again one sees pretty much the same financial and working
conditions, regardless of the Private/Public status. The basic
financial fact here is that these students pay little or nothing in
tuition or fees in those disciplines with substantial external research
The features mentioned above were true in the
good old days when state tax revenue was generously applied to
supporting the Public universities; and they continue to be true today
in a very different public-funding climate. The features
mentioned below have changed dramatically since the early 1990s.
Looking at the elite professional graduate
programs – medicine, business management and law – the students are
charged very large tuitions/fees; and the rate at the Public
universities is approaching that at the Privates. Privatization is well
under way in this sector.
Finally, we look at undergraduate
education. What was once nearly “free” in the Publics is now
rather costly, but still priced far below the level charged by the
Privates. The “fees” charged to undergraduate students at the Public
universities have been rising rapidly and one may well ask how far this
“convergence” may proceed before the significant distinctions between
Public and Private disappear.
First, we must ask: What is the basic
difference – philosophical or sociological – between the two
camps? Foremost, there is the contrast of exclusivity (at the
Privates) and inclusivity (at the Publics) in regard to their
acceptance of academically qualified undergraduate students.
Therefore, one may well worry that as undergraduate fees at the Publics
continue to increase, there may be a substantial shift in the economic
class background of the undergraduate student body; and this may lead
to more rapid erosion in state funding; and this in turn will
accelerate the rise in student fees; etc. Such a transition – the
Privatization of undergraduate education at the Public universities –
will have profound implications for the stratification of American
society: access to top quality college education will be more and more
reserved for those students from more affluent families, thus
preserving the class status of those families. The American Dream
of class mobility through educational opportunities will shrink or
nearly disappear. (There are important financial aid programs for lower
income students; their adequacy is the subject of a very separate
With that likely picture in mind, we ask: Is
there some principled line that could be drawn to limit the level of
undergraduate student fees at our leading Public universities? A
most concrete answer is the focus of the present study: Undergraduate
student fees should not exceed the actual average cost, expended by the
institution, for undergraduate education, as that activity of the
university may be disaggregated (through objective cost accounting)
from the whole bundle of academic missions.
The consequences of adopting such a principle
would be something quite unsettling to university administrators, who
would have to recast their entire mode of financial management: they
would lose the pliant “cash cow” that eager students (and their
families) now provide as alternatives to state
appropriations. Faculty members, as
well, might see this as quite a threat: Who will then pay the salaries
for our research endeavors?
On the other side, the consequences of not
adopting such a principle would seem to imply the sure erosion, and
perhaps actual loss, of that guarantee of access to all future students
who are academically qualified, regardless of their financial status.
A tough choice is there to be addressed; and
that should be done openly and honestly. Our duty is to not allow
it to remain hidden.
My recommendation is that the leaders of our
public (and private!) research universities publish disaggregated
calculations of what they actually spend on undergraduate education, as
I have done for UC. This may make their jobs more difficult –
restraining the impulse to raise student fees to cover the escalating
cost of research – but it will be more honest. It will also help
to preserve those principles of access and affordability, which have
formed the basic mission of our public universities.
In recent years there has been a general call
for more “transparency” (and, of course, more honesty) in the financial
reports issued by large corporations throughout this country. The
present work is a contribution along those lines directed at the
institutions of higher education.
I am grateful to Patricia Cross, John
Douglass, Laura Nader and Brian Pusser for their generously given
comments and advice on earlier drafts of this paper.
Many UC documents are available on the Internet, as cited below.
This paper is an expansion of the earlier report posted on my website,
Financing the University – Part 7 (11/28/04)
 James S. Fairweather, “The Mythologies of Faculty Productivity,” The Journal of Higher Education,
Vol. 73 No. 1, 2002
 Gordon C. Winston, "A Guide to Measuring College Costs," Chapter 3
in Middaugh, Michael F. (ed.) Analyzing Costs in Higher
Education: What Institutional Researchers Need to Know.
 UCOP, Campus Financial Schedules:
 NACUBO = National Association of College and University Business
 UCOP, Accounting Manual; Chapter U-751-17:
 UCOP, Budget for Current Operations:
 Letter from Vice President Larry Hershman, dated December 21, 2004:
 UCOP, Academic Personnel Manual; APM 210: http://www.ucop.edu/acadadv/acadpers/apm/welcome.html
 Institute for Research in Social Behavior, “University of
California Faculty Time-Use Study 1983-84,” University Archives,
Bancroft Library, UC Berkeley 308kd.tu
 Atul Gawande, “Piecework: Medicine’s money problem,” The New Yorker magazine,
April 4, 2005, page 44.
 Thomas Sowell, “The Scandal of College Tuition”, Commentary 94:2 August
1992, page 23.
 University of California, “Undergraduate Instruction and Faculty
Teaching Activities; Ninth Annual Report to the Legislature”, April
 UC Ladder Rank Faculty by Discipline, October 2004. http://www.ucop.edu/acadadv/datamgmt/faculty1.pdf
 UC Non-Senate Instructional Unit Memorandum of Understanding;
Article 24 – Instructional Workload.
Table 2a. UC Faculty Time-Use
|All UC-related Activities
Table 2b. Details of Instructional
|Details of Instructional Activities
|Regularly Scheduled Courses
(classes, labs, fieldwork, giving exams)*
Study (197-199, 297-299, etc. courses)*
(seminars, colloquia, symposia)*
|Giving Oral Exams
|Other Instructional Activities
(preparing & grading exams and papers,
|confer with TAs, letters of
rec., reading theses, committee discussions)
Total Instructional Activities
Table 2c. Further Breakdown of
“In-Class” Hours/Week by Level of Instruction
|Regularly Scheduled Courses
Source: Reference .
This survey sampled 100% I&R FTE faculty, excluding those in health
sciences and law.
*This counts time only when the professor was present.
Contact with graduate student research assistants was counted under
“Research” time, although such students generally registered in a
course ”295. Research”.
I take 1/3 of the University Service work time
from Table 2a (2.2 H/W) and add this to the 26.0 H/W listed there for
Instructional Activities. This sum (28.2 H/W) amounts to 46% of
the total University work-time. Now from Table 2c I see that faculty
teaching time is equally divided, on the average, between teaching
undergraduate classes and teaching graduate classes. Lacking any
better data, I will take this 50-50 split and apply it to the total of
faculty teaching work-time. The result: UC faculty devote, on
average, 23% of their work time to undergraduate instruction.
Here is some UC Data on Formal Instructional Activities, over a period
Primary Classes include only unit-bearing, regularly scheduled course
Table 3a. Primary Classes – Number in
All = Classes taught by All Instructors.
RRF = Classes taught by Regular-Rank Faculty only.
Table 3b. Primary Classes Taught by
Regular-Rank Faculty – per FTE
U+G = Undergraduate and graduate classes.
U = Undergraduate classes only.
Table 3c. Independent Study Enrollment
by Regular Rank Faculty – per FTE
Source: Data from Tables on pages 100-104 of Reference .
Here is further information that lends
confirmation to the main result of the Faculty Time-Use Study, namely,
that UC faculty spend, on average, 46% of their work time at teaching
and half of that is directed to undergraduate instruction.
Item 1. The average teaching load for regular rank faculty at UC
is 4 quarter courses per academic year. The data come first from
Reference , page 109, where there is an official listing of the
formal teaching loads for UC faculty in various disciplines:
Humanities, Social Sciences, and Mathematics – 4 to 5 quarter courses
per year; Engineering and Computer Science, and Physical Sciences – 3
to 4 quarter courses per year; Biological Sciences – 3 quarter courses
per year. Further data on the distribution of UC faculty by discipline
 allows me to calculate a weighted average; the answer is 4.0
quarter courses per year.
Next we search the University’s Academic
Personnel Manual (APM), Reference , and other UC documents for
relevant statements of employment policy.
Item 2. According to UC’s agreement with Non-Senate Faculty ,
the normal teaching load for full-time Lecturers is 9 quarter courses
per year. Compare this to the average teaching load of regular rank
faculty (hired to teach and do research), which is 4.0 quarter courses
per year; and we conclude that regular faculty are considered to spend
4/9 = 44% of their work at
Item 3. APM 661 says that faculty who teach during the summer session
are to be paid 17%, 19%, or 22% of their academic year salary rate for
teaching two courses during the summer 6-, 7- or 8- week session.
Using the 4.0 quarter courses per year average faculty workload, this
leads to the inference that teaching, for regular faculty, on average,
accounts for 34% to 44% of total faculty pay.
Item 4. APM 200 says that emeritus faculty who are recalled to teach
will be paid at the rate of 1/9 of their base salary at retirement for
teaching each regular quarter course. With the UC average faculty
teaching load of 4.0 quarter courses per year, this leads to the
inference that teaching, for regular faculty, on the average, accounts
for 4/9 = 44% of total faculty
Item 5. APM 740 is about Sabbatical Leaves. The rate tables of
accrual of credit for sabbatical leaves shows that a full-time faculty
member, after working for 6 years, can have leave of 2 quarters at full
pay or three quarters at 2/3 pay. An alternative arrangement is
Sabbatical in Residence, which requires teaching one standard course
throughout the year and getting full salary. This equates the
teaching of one course for a year (3 quarter courses, which is ¾
of the normal average faculty teaching load of 4 quarter courses per
year) with 1/3 of annual faculty salary. Restated, this equates
the full normal average faculty teaching duties to 4/9 = 44% of total annual faculty salary.
There is impressive consistency in these
several items of UC policy and practice; and that figure 44% is
remarkably close to the value derived from the Faculty Time-Use Study.
Finally, we seek further data on the
separation between undergraduate and graduate teaching efforts of
regular rank faculty. Data in Appendix B is useful here. From
Table 3b (for the most recent year) we find that regular rank faculty
teach Primary Classes to undergraduates 2.5/4.9 = 51% of the time; and
Table 3c shows that they teach undergraduate students in Independent
Study Classes 4.6/14.8 = 31% of the time. So for their total
teaching load we need to take some weighted average of these two
percentages to say what percentage of total teaching effort goes to
undergraduates. One may argue about exactly what weighting to
use; but the result will doubtless be something a bit less than 50%.
This collection of additional data lends
strong confirmation to the basic method used in this paper to
disaggregate the cost of undergraduate education from other academic
functions at UC.