A Bubble in PhDs?

July 2, 2011 in Daily Bulletin

Is it possible that too many people desire a PhD without properly understanding the underlying value of the degree? The Economist suggests that it might be. Their arguments include:

  • The number of PhD positions seems to have little to do with the number of available job openings for that degree.
  • On the flip side business executives are complaining that they don’t have enough skilled workers, suggesting that PhDs are teaching students the wrong types of skills.
  • Even countries that have a declining population (such as Japan) have had a recent spurt in students with PhD degrees. This is a problem that will get worse as the Asian countries rise and expand their academic institutions.
  • Universities have begun to treat PhD students as “cheap, highly motivated and disposable labour,” paying them as little as $20,000 a year.
  • Postdocs in Canada have a lower average salary than construction workers.

There’s a lot more in the full report available here.

Source: The Economist