The first volley that came across my radar was an article I blogged about on April 5. Here's my post (including a link to an article titled "Thesis Hatement: Getting a literature Ph.D. will turn you into an emotional trainwreck, not a professor.")
On April 11, Aljazeera published "Academia's indentured servants: outspoken academics are rare; most tenured faculty have stayed silent about the adjunct crisis." Basically, there are few tenure-track jobs, and people who work as adjunct faculty are treated like indentured servants.
The latest in this discussion is an academic librarian, whose April 21 blog post is titled "Smart people doing foolish things." The author asks why anybody smart enough to succeed at getting a Ph.D. would stand for a lifetime of indentured servitude.
Here is the problem in a nutshell:
- Grad schools take in way more students than are likely to obtain a tenure-track job--fulltime employment, with some security, benefits. They do so because these grad students teach freshmen classes at a fraction of the cost of hiring anyone else.
- These grads end their time with a Ph.D., but no tenure-track job. They truly want (and likely deserve) a tenure-track job, but for every one job there are 17 people hoping to get it.
- To stay in academia, the 16 "leftover" Ph.D.s agree to teach as adjuncts--parttime employment at hamburger-flipping wages, no security, no benefits.
- There are other career paths for Ph.D.s; but academia regards anyone who takes a non-academic job as "washed up"; chances of getting a tenure-track academic job, if you're working fulltime at something else, drops exponentially the longer you stay at that other job.