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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Faculty & Staff

UH adjunct professors reveal low compensation by University


An anonymous UH adjunct professor wrote a post on Reddit, revealing the low pay received by part-time professors despite their workload and responsibilities. However, what is occurring at UH is also a national problem in higher education. | Juana Garcia/The Cougar

An anonymous UH adjunct professor wrote a post on Reddit, revealing the low pay received by part-time professors despite their workload and responsibilities. However, what is occurring at UH is also a national problem in higher education. | Juana Garcia/The Cougar

On the social media site Reddit, an anonymous adjunct professor gained attention for describing the lack of pay increase for part-time professors at UH in a post.

The post went into detail about how many adjuncts, like the professor, have worked for UH for years and continue to receive low compensation despite experiencing an increase in workload and responsibilities.

Including teaching, adjunct professors are responsible for additional duties such as designing their courses, creating exams, grading and advising students for success in their classes.

In return, lecturers are generally paid $3,000 per course with no benefits, although compensation varies based on experience, the department and the course level. 

Depending on the factors, they may receive pay as low as $2,000 or as high as $8,000 per course the entire semester.

As salaries remain stagnant for lecturers, they face increasing class sizes, especially those teaching at the undergraduate level.

“(UH has) not raised our pay in over 20 years and refuse to do it even today. Additionally, we have to pay over $500 for parking out of our own pockets,” said the professor.

“They continue to increase our course enrollment and expectations with not one cent more pay.” 

A former UH adjunct professor, who prefers to remain anonymous, reveals those who teach undergraduate classes may have over a hundred students in one course.

“What is worse than the adjunct pay is the use of doctoral students as adjuncts. Doctoral students who are pre-dissertation receive about $2,400 per class,” the professor said.

“My classes were not as large as some undergraduate classes where there can be over a hundred students.”

Additionally, burnout among adjuncts is becoming more prevalent, potentially affecting the quality of education for students. 

Aside from juggling responsibilities to help with student success, some juggle multiple jobs to receive income for bills, housing and other costs to support themselves and their families.

However, what’s unfolding at UH is not unprecedented.

Across the U.S., adjunct professors at different institutions encounter the same problems of being overworked and underpaid with no benefits.

In a report from the American Federation of Teachers, nearly a third of 3,000 adjuncts surveyed earn less than $25,000 a year, placing them below the federal poverty guideline for a family of four. 

Another third of respondents revealed making less than $50,000.

Additionally, colleges and universities have implemented hiring freezes and budget cuts due to the financial upheaval caused by the coronavirus pandemic. 

Combined with future fluctuations in enrollment, adjuncts face uncertainty with job security in upcoming semesters.

Part of the adjunct problem stems from an increase in administrative positions and the overproduction of doctoral degrees. 

After graduating, new doctoral graduates encounter a limited amount of tenure track positions available. 

Additionally, some have trouble securing non-academic jobs due to being viewed as overqualified, according to Education Next.

While some have a full-time job and do adjunct work on the side, others settle for adjunct faculty positions, hoping to eventually secure full-time employment while relying on it to suffice their living costs.

For those relying on their adjunct positions for income, they hope for their per-course pay to increase, especially as institutions continue to rely on them heavily.

“Adjuncts should be able to unionize to negotiate for fair salaries and benefits,” said the anonymous former professor.

“UH is depending more and more on adjuncts.”

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