This figure is staggering: Adjunct professors and other “contingent employees” make up 70% of the faculty in American universities. These people have no hope for tenure at their schools.
Writes James Hoff in The Guardian, “All but the most elite college students are being taught by overworked and underpaid adjunct lecturers. These faculty are essentially paid contractors, who come in, do a quick job, and then head out. Maintaining high standards and expectations, performing research, and providing honest and accurate assessment under such conditions is incredibly difficult, and the continued use of adjuncts is destroying the integrity and value of higher education.”
These faculty typically have no benefits and no job security. They need to form unions – for their sake, and for the sake of the students they teach.
I fear that university teaching will become a profession so unappealing that truly talented people will flee from it. We are on the verge of losing a generation of scholars to fields that reward initiative with collegial recognition and an appropriate amount of cash. It will take a long time to recover from that calamity.