Tuesday, October 2, 2012

NY Times on declining enrollment in US graduate schools

Quite a lot of the points in this article point to what might be a grim future for the United States:

* The number of students in master's and doctoral programs declined by 1.7% from fall 2010 to fall 2011. (This excludes law and medical schools.) The number of Americans matriculating decreased by 2.3%, while temporary residents increased enrollment by 7.8%. These numbers suggest that we are turning our graduate schools over to foreign students. It's great for as many people as possible to study here, and to be exposed to American culture and values, but we also need to educate ourselves. We will need PhDs to staff our colleges and universities in 20-30 years.

* Education had the biggest drop-off. One explanation, from the president of the Council of Graduate Schools, is that financial stress means that teachers can no longer get time off to get advanced degrees, and school systems don't have money to let principals get principal certificates. If we can't afford to educate our teachers, what's going to happen to our primary and secondary education in the next ten to fifteen years?

* State budgets are also forcing reductions in aid to graduate students. This goes back to the first point: what is going to happen to us if we can't educate ourselves?

There is some good news in the report: graduate applications are rising, and the acceptance rate is decreasing. I hope that means that better students are getting into, and going, to graduate school.

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