Tuesday, June 10, 2008

We Teach Algebra for the Same Reason that the Calculus Book is so Expensive and Goes to a New Edition Every Three Years

A low-level undergraduate course, like algebra or Calculus Lite, is typically taught by an instructor whose salary for the course is in the range $3500 - $5000 + benefits. And, of course, there's the costs of having a classroom, photocopying, and assorted whatnot. If the course is populated by 30 students taking a somewhat standard courseload, this course generates roughly $7500 $17,500 in tuition.

Higher-level courses tend to be taught by higher paid faculty. If you have someone paid, say, $60,000 a year who brings in a grant that generates $10,000 a year in institutional overhead and who teaches four courses a year, this faculty-member costs the university $12,500 a course (+ benefits, etc.). No one teaches Real Analysis in a 50-student section. You need over 20 students in a section just to break even.

Under-prepared students taught by low-paid teaching faculty are the closest thing we have to a money tree.

Apparently I am unable to read the chart on the bursar's web page.