U.S. universities' growing dependence on contingent faculty, who have short-term appointments and are ineligible for tenure, has attracted increasing attention, especially since the 2013 death of Duquesne University adjunct professor Margaret Mary Vojtko focused national attention on the issue. As we have mentioned, academics with "traditional" tenured or tenure-track appointments constitute only a quarter of the nation's instructional force, according to the American Association of University Professors.

The United States is not the only country turning increasingly to adjuncts. Just over half of full-time faculty in South Korea had contingent appointments in 2013, an increase of 14 percentage points since 2010, according to a 28 April article from The Korea Herald, which is published in Seoul.

Beyond that, a survey "by local media" found that "at least 38.8 percent of newly hired professors this year had nonguaranteed contracts," writes Yoon Min-sik in the article. "Considering that few colleges reveal information about their new faculty members' contracts, the actual number is likely to be much higher." For example, "[n]one of the 32 new professors at Sangmyung University Cheonan Campus, and only one new faculty member of Pai Chai University were on tenure track."

As in the United States, financial pressure on universities explains the trend, Yoon notes. Also as in the United States, contingent faculty members receive lower pay than their colleagues on the tenure track—about half as much, according to a figure cited by Yoon. In addition, they "are often at the bottom of the pecking order in the faculty," Yoon adds.

Beryl Lieff Benderly writes from Washington, D.C.