BASIC NEEDS INSECURITY IN THE HIGHER EDUCATION INSTRUCTIONAL WORKFORCE

In the fall of 2019, nearly 550 instructional staff members from four community colleges and one university responded to a pilot #RealCollege survey designed specifically for faculty and staff members. This report describes the results of that pilot survey examining basic needs insecurity among educators (i.e., faculty members and instructors) in higher education.

The results indicate:

  • 38% of instructional staff respondents experienced some form of basic needs insecurity over the past year.
  • 17% of respondents experienced food insecurity in the prior 30 days.
  • 33% of respondents experienced housing insecurity in the previous year.
  • 8% of respondents experienced homelessness in the previous year.
  • Educators of color, LGBTQ educators, younger educators, part-time educators, and those earning relatively low incomes experienced disproportionately high rates of food and housing insecurity.
  • 43% of part-time educators experiencing basic needs insecurity utilized public benefits.
  • Educators carrying high debt loads, working more than one job, or working more than 60 hours a week had high rates of basic needs insecurity.
  • 45% of educators experiencing basic needs insecurity reported at least a moderate level of anxiety.

These are challenges that existed before the coronavirus pandemic, which has further increased job insecurity and unemployment rates, destabilized institutional and personal budgets, and threatened the physical and mental well-being of faculty. These crises for faculty and staff undoubtedly affected—and will continue to affect—the education of their students. Any college completion agenda must address the financial uncertainty facing educators.