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What happens to PhDs?

I have been reading this book titled “Highly-Educated Working Poor – Graduate School as a Manufacturer of Part-timers ” (written in Japanese).  Sounds pessimistic?  Yep, this is a very pessimistic book, indeed.

Pessimistic it may be, the book conveys the critical truth about post PhD lives in my country.  In Japan, a lot of new graduate schools were established around the time all the national university became semi-privatized in 2004.  It was a part of the government policy along with the privatization to increase the number of graduate schools.  Consequently, there have been more and more graduates with higher degrees.  However, the author of the book claims that the society is not ready to utilize so many MAs, MSs, and especially PhDs. 

This book also reminded me of a website called “A Village of One-hundred Doctors” that I recently came across (also in Japanese).  According to this website:

Of 100 new Doctors,

16 are MDs (medical doctors)

14 become professors

20 become post doctoral fellows (postdocs)

8 become company workers

11 become civil service employees

7 completely changes their areas of specialization

16 are unemployed

And the rest 8 go MISSING!!!

Is this depressing or what?!  Oh this is not a world average – this is a Japanese case, if that makes you non-Japanese people feel better. 

OK, enough of this bleak story.  I will write something more positive tomorrow, I promise. 

Reforming the 'Formation of Scholars'

Today’s Inside Higher Ed reports on a new book from the Carnegie Endowment for the Advancement of Teaching. In The Formation of Scholars: Rethinking Doctoral Education for the Twenty-First Century (Jossey-Bass), George Walker et al state the obvious: doctoral programs (and their purposive requirements) often are not understood by supervising professors and students. The purposive use of qualifying exams, the apprenticeship model, and dissertations must also be reformed, they argue.

From the article:

Efforts to assess the quality of what goes on in graduate education are minimal, the report says, and many professors aren’t excited about talking about these issues. “One finds attitudes of complacency (‘Our application numbers are strong and so is our national ranking’), denial (‘We don’t have problems with gender or ethnic diversity here’), and blame (‘Students these days just aren’t willing to make the kinds of sacrifices we did to be successful.’),” the book says.

While many programs resist change, many doctoral students find themselves uncertain about expectations or the rationale for requirements that are consuming years of their lives, the book says. “The rationale for program requirements has often been lost in the mists of history: Students may not well understand why certain elements are required or toward what end, and faculty, if pushed, will acknowledge that there is no unified vision underpinning many of the experiences students are expected to undertake.”

The book’s recommendations are built on themes of scholarly integration, intellectual community, and stewardship. Read more at Inside Higher Ed…