1. Perhaps the most glaring change facing job-seeking PhD holders is a sharp deterioration in career opportunities and employment conditions. A glut of PhDs in many fields produced a shift from a seller’s to a buyer’s market. When AG appeared in 1970, US academia was approaching the end of its enormous expansion, becoming the juggernaut of world higher education. PhD production continued unabated, but job numbers stagnated or even contracted. Colleges and universities began to restrict tenure-track positions, and created a rapidly growing, semi-nomadic proletariat of instructors and lecturers on one-year, often part-time contracts, paid on a per-course basis. By now, this new class of itinerant PhDs approaches one fourth or even one third of the faculty at many institutions, and ekes out poverty wages by laboring at one-fourth or less the income of tenure-track faculty. Before that, large state and private universities employed (and continue to employ) hordes of cheap graduate students as TAs to teach many of their lower division courses; but it was not so exploitative, in that it was an apprenticeship in teaching with a reasonably good chance of a cushy academic job after four or five years of indenture.
2. It might be thought that these tremendous savings in wages to the colleges and universities would be passed on as reduced tuition for students, but the reverse happened. As a powerless, captive constituency, students were soaked with tuition bills rising at double the rate of general inflation. The return on educational investment started to sink, especially at non-elite institutions, because the cost of education became essentially unrelated to its quality. Mediocre and poor schools charge almost as much as the Ivy League for crummy degrees, and thus face the prospect of well-deserved extinction.
Two glaring consequences of tuition inflation and degree degradation are a ballooning student debt burden with a galloping default rate, and the parasitic growth of highly dubious private institutions for profit. These “universities” offer mostly online instruction, which they produce cheaply and sell dearly to marginal students who frequently drop out with huge debts. The institutions pocket largely Federal loans to students, the taxpayers are left with the cost of defaulted loans, and the students get the royal shaft. More.
The admins with whom Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) clashes on basic civil liberties for students and the student ‘crats who enthusiastically snuff out such liberties are probably best understood as serfs who can only survive by getting government union jobs restricting the rights of others. See, for example, “Disinvitations of U commence speakers rise dramatically over 15 years.”
In the current academic environment, Darwinism can be collapsing as an overarching research paradigm for decades before the fact is acknowledged among the tenured Darwin faculty and their studentcrats.
Here is the original 1970 book, updated and online, same venue:
ACADEMIC GAMESMANSHIP: HOW TO MAKE A PhD PAY (Updated Edition)
By Pierre van den Berghe
Note: A version of this story appeared at Blazing Cat Fur
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