For example, over the last few decades, the typical public four-year college has seen a sharp expansion of its support and managerial staff — from 5.5 per 100 students in 1987 to 7.5 per 100 in 2007. Colleges have also been reducing student-to-faculty ratios, and increasing spending on fringe offerings like gyms and student centers. As a result, expenditures per student by public institutions of higher education rose 48 percent from 1985 to 2009, after adjusting for inflation. Can we really say that higher education has gotten anywhere close to 48 percent better over that period?With apologies to Bill Clinton, that depends on what one means by better. Better amenities? Check. More support staff for unmotivated or unprepared students? You betcha. Assistance for faculty who want to put more of their course material online? Indeed. Note here that I'm skeptical of Mr Barro's confidence in video and distance education, which you'll see endorsed in his column.
In California, where there used to be two girls for every boy at Surf City, there is now one administrator for each professor. Details at Marginal Revolution. Do we have any evidence that those increases in administrators, and their impositions on faculty, have produced any efficiencies?