Monday, August 3, 2009

Rank Inflation?

While looking for something else, I came across a report from DEEWR (Commonwealth Department of Education) on trends in employment in the higher education sector in Australia. Since 1999 there has been a nice increase in the number of academic staff (faculty) at Australian universities after a lengthy period of stagnation:

Currently 33% of staff are at level B (lecturer = assistant professor in the US), 19% are at level A (post-docs and associate lecturers), 23% are at level C (senior lecturer = associate professor in the US) and 24% are at levels D and E (associate professor and full professor). As I had suspected the number of senior staff at levels D and E has risen since 1996. The average growth rate at ranks D&E has been 4.5% per year, vs. 1.9% at level C, 1.5% at level B, and 1.6% at level A. Is this a case of rank inflation (like grade inflation)? Or do more people now qualify for the higher ranks on the same basis as was used in the past?

Check out this paper for more information on the structure of the academic workforce in Australia (but not by rank).

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