I currently work as a teacher’s assistant for a Big 10 university in the United States and I’ve been feeling especially exploited by the university as of late, so I decided to finally sit down and do some calculations that I’ve wanted to do for a while. Keep in mind that these are really rough calculations, but they are the best I could do with the information at my disposal.
My university charges more per credit hour for juniors and seniors than sophomores and freshmen, and even though I teach some juniors and seniors, to be as generous as possible (and to simplify calculations) I did all my calculations based on the cost per credit hour for freshmen and sophomores. I also subtracted out my boss’ salary (divided by the number of TAs in my department) because he does do some work for our classes (mainly online work), but all of the grading and actual teaching is performed by me. My boss also teaches, so he does bring in money for the university, some of which presumably goes towards his salary, but I decided to ignore that fact to simplify my calculations. Again, I was trying to be generous. I also subtracted out how much my tuition cost as a graduate student because in addition to a stipend I receive for teaching, I also do not have to pay tuition. Finally, I subtracted out how much I received as part of my stipend over the course of 2 years.
$459 (freshman/sophomore cost per credit hour) x 4 (my class is a 4 credit class) = $1,836
$1,836 x 113 (the number of students I will have taught over the course of my time as a TA at my university) = $207,468
$675.83 (cost per credit hour for graduate students) x 33 (the number of credits I will have taken over the course of my degree) = $22,302.50
$43,986 (My boss’ salary) / 7 (the number of employees he supervises, it may actually be more, I’m not sure, but if it is, that is even more damning) = $6,283.71
$20,000 (my approximate stipend for one year, I’m pretty sure it’s actually less) x 2 (the number of years I will have worked as a TA) = $40,000
That means that over the course of just two years working as a TA in higher education, my university will have successfully exploited $138,881.79 dollars from me that I personally earned for them. Let this be a warning and a demonstration that universities are inherently exploitative entities.