Chicago, Paris-8, and the magnitude of university wealth

I was a little bit stunned to realize yesterday that my working conditions — as a lowly graduate student at the University of Chicago — are in a sense markedly better than those of a typical French public university professor. You see, the University of Chicago owns a building in Paris where they give us, the visiting grad students, office space. But if you are a Maître de Conférences (somewhat like an associate professor) at, say, the University of Paris-8 (Saint-Denis), you get no work space whatsoever, aside from a cramped class preparation lounge where you can leave your coat while you teach your class. University professors in Saint-Denis, unless they are also administrators, must either find office space elsewhere or work at home.

Now I could tell you all sorts of other things about how my home university, a very rich private American university, is different from the French public universities I’ve encountered. But I’ve looked up some figures and, frankly, the sheer quantitative difference between Paris-8 and UChicago is so enormous that it almost speaks for itself. Behold:

Paris-8 UChicago Ratio
Students 21,487 15,149 1.4 : 1
Faculty 1,075 2,211 1 : 2.1
Staff 601 ~12,000 1 : 20
# Buildings 11 more than 190 1 : 17
Annual Budget €119.3 million $2.8 billion 1 : 16.8
Endowment None $4-5 billion

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