Government Coordination

Every state has an entity designed to promote coordination and collaboration between higher education institutions. A few are listed:

    Alabama Commission on Higher Education
    California Postsecondary Education Commission
    Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board
    Washington State Higher Education Coordinating Board
    The Georgia Department of Technical and Adult Education

Academic employment
In the 1980s and 1990s significant changes in the economics of academic life began to be felt, identified by some as a catastrophe in the making and by others as a new era with potentially huge gains for the university. Some critics identified the changes as a new "corporatization of the university." Academic jobs have been traditionally viewed by many intellectuals as desirable, because of the autonomy and intellectual freedom they allow (especially because of the tenure system), despite their low pay compared to other professions requiring extensive education. And until the mid-1970s, when federal expenditures for higher education fell sharply, there were routinely more tenure-track jobs than Ph.D. graduates.

Now, by contrast, despite rising tuition rates and growing university revenues (especially in the U.S.) well-paid professorial positions are rarer, replaced with poorly paid adjunct positions and graduate-student labor. People with doctorates in the sciences, and to a lesser extent mathematics, often find jobs outside of academia (or use part-time work in industry to supplement their incomes), but a Ph.D. in the humanities and many social sciences prepares the student primarily for academic employment. However, in recent years a large proportion of such Ph.D.s—ranging from 30 percent to 60 percent—have been unable to obtain tenure-track jobs. They must choose between adjunct positions, which are poorly paid and lack job security; teaching jobs in community colleges or in high schools, where little research is done; the non-academic job market, where they will tend to be overqualified; or some other course of study, such as law or business.

Indeed, with academic institutions producing Ph.D.s in greater numbers than the number of tenure-track professorial positions they intend to create, there is little question that administrators are cognizant of the economic effects of this arrangement. The sociologist Stanley Aronowitz wrote: "Basking in the plenitude of qualified and credentialed instructors, many university administrators see the time when they can once again make tenure a rare privilege, awarded only to the most faithful and to those whose services are in great demand".

Most people who are knowledgeable of the academic job market advise prospective graduate students not to attend graduate school if they must pay for it; graduate students who are admitted without tuition remission and a reasonable stipend are forced to incur large debts that they will be unlikely to repay quickly. In addition, most people recommend that students obtain full and accurate information about the placement record of the programs they are considering. At some programs, most Ph.D.s get multiple tenure-track offers, whereas at others few obtain any; such information is clearly very useful in deciding what to do with the next 5–7 years of one's life.

Some believe that, as a number of Baby Boomer professors retire, the academic job market will rebound. However, others predict that this will not result in an appreciable growth of tenure-track positions, as universities will merely fill their needs with low-paid adjunct positions. Aronowitz ascribed this problem to the economic restructuring of academia as a whole:

    In fact, the program of restructuring on university campuses, which entails reducing full-time tenure-track positions in favor of part-time, temporary, and contingent jobs, has literally "fabricated" this situation. The idea of an academic "job market" based on the balance of supply and demand in an open competitive arena is a fiction whose effect is to persuade the candidate that (he or she) simply lost out because of bad luck or lack of talent. The truth is otherwise.

The effects of a growing pool of unemployed, underemployed, and undesirably employed Ph.D.s on many countries' economies as a whole is undetermined.