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ERIC Number: EJ1048001
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 11
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 35
ISSN: ISSN-0748-8475
Economies of Scale and Large Classes
Saiz, Martin
Thought & Action, p149-160 Fall 2014
Making classes larger saves money--and public universities across the country have found it a useful strategy to balance their budgets after decades of state funding cuts and increases to infrastructure costs. Where this author teaches, in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences at California State University, Northridge (CSUN), student-to-faculty ratios have increased by 25 percent since 2008. Across CSUN, those ratios have increased 11.5 percent since 2000, and beyond that campus, across all 23 universities of the CSU system, they increased by 9.5 percent between 2007 and 2011. While these larger classes have helped provide fiscal stability and flexibility to CSUN, the benefits have not been distributed equally among the stakeholders in the university. Administrators may capture the economies of increasing returns to scale, and this strategy may work for them and their budgets, but it also exposes where power lies within the university. Larger class sizes and higher student-to-faculty ratios provide large benefits to administrators; some benefits to faculty; but only few, if any, benefits to students. This trend and its consequences for students are not specific to CSUN, nor the large public institutions of California, but are symptomatic of the changes occurring in higher education across the nation.
National Education Association. 1201 16th Street NW Washington, DC 20036. Tel: 202-833-4000; Fax: 202-822-7974; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: California