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A n increased reliance on part-time adjunct faculty in the state’s community college system is reducing the amount of academic
advising available from full-time faculty and may
be contributing to poor student completion rates,
according to a recent study released by MTA’s Center
for Education Policy and Practice.
On July 17, the day after releasing the report,
the MTA testified at a legislative hearing in favor
of a bill that would increase the percentage of full-
time faculty and provide more
benefits to part-timers.
The CEPP study, “Reverse
the Course: Changing Staffing
and Funding Policies at
Colleges,” found that less than
one-third of all community
college courses are taught
by full-time faculty. The rate
declined from 34 percent to 28 percent between
2004-2005 and 2010-2011.
During approximately the same period, only17
percent of first-time students enrolled full time in
the state’s 15 community colleges completed their
college’s programs. The report defines program
completion as receiving a two-year degree or
certificate within three years.
“Most of the academic advising obligation falls
to the ever-shrinking percentage of full-time faculty,”
concluded CEPP Director Kathleen Skinner.
The MTA is recommending the following:
n Community colleges should use a meaningful
portion of the new funds allocated to them in the
fiscal 2014 budget to hire more full-time faculty.
n The Legislature and the governor should
continue to restore funds to public higher education
in future years to implement changes needed to
improve student outcomes, including community
college graduation rates.
n Among other issues, the Special Commission
on Higher Education Quality, Efficiencies and
Finance created in the budget should examine what
impact the loss of full-time faculty has had on
students and make recommendations to ameliorate
any adverse effects.
“There are many excellent adjunct faculty in
the Division of Continuing Education who play an
important role in our colleges and universities,”
As a result, the MTA report notes, community
colleges have raised fees, using some of those funds
to hire adjunct faculty to keep up with demand
while the number of full-time faculty members has
“Massachusetts needs to be a national leader
in public higher education, and that goal cannot be
achieved without heightened levels of funding for
our state’s colleges and universities,” said Richard
Freeland, commissioner of higher education. “The
overreliance of our community colleges on adjunct
faculty highlighted in the MTA report is one of the
most problematic consequences of the constrained
budgets our institutions have received in recent
“Against this background,” Freeland continued,
“the decision of the governor and Legislature in
the FY14 budget to provide significantly increased
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