Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Doctoral graduates left chasing dreams

Some interesting comments—the growth in the number of PhDs, from 3900 in 2001 to 6500 in 2011, is notable—but few suprises in Doctoral graduates left chasing dreams.

I agree with Richard Strugnell that Australia is producing too many PhDs, and that
We are training them on the assumption they are going into academia. But the majority won't. We just don't know where they end up.
Zlatko Skrbis says
...a judgment cannot be made about what is an appropriate number of PhDs without an understanding of their career outcomes...
which is reasonable, but the following comment about the federal government failing to fund a longitudinal study of PhD graduates sounds like sour grapes; the federal government fails to support the majority of requests for research money!

In Physics, Australian PhDs interested in getting a position in academia usually take post-doctoral positions, often overseas. Those that do return to academia in Australia are enriched by this tortuous track to tenure.

In each issue of Physics World the once a physicist column makes interesting reading. When students ask me "why should I study physics?" or "how does physics training help in other careers?" the answer can likely be found here.

Disclosure: the author is an employee of the University of Western Australia, and the views expressed are those of the author and not those of the University.

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