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The Goldwater Institute released a new report today, blaming the rising cost of college on "administrative bloat."

Arizona's public universities strongly disagreed with the report, saying they are more efficient than ever.

Between 1993 and 2007, leading American universities increased spending on administration much faster than spending on instruction, research and service, according to the Goldwater report.

Northern Arizona University employed 4.6 administrators per 100 full-time equivalent students in 2007, up 36.5 percent from 1993, according to the Goldwater report. Employment in academic areas was up only 15.8 percent in that time, the report says.

Northern Arizona University spokesman Tom Bauer questioned the way the report counted administrators, since it included a category of workers such as academic advisers, librarians and financial aid counselors.

Bauer also said requirements in technology and student services changed greatly between 1993 and 2007.

NAU's distance learning programs existed in 1993, but they've grown more than 130 percent since then, he said.

During the past 18 months, NAU has cut 200 jobs and consolidated administrative jobs while protecting academic jobs, he said. At the same time, NAU enrollment grew by 2,000 students.

"We're proud of our efficiency, we think we've done a good job," Bauer said. "Taxpayers get a pretty good bang for their buck when it comes to efficiency at NAU."

Leaders at the University of Arizona and Arizona State University also questioned the definition of administrator used in the report and said they have improved efficiency.

Becky Pallack can be reached at bpallack@azstarnet.com or (520) 954-2492.

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