How are universities benefiting from PhD students?

posted
26-Jun-12, 11:35
Avatar for flagrandom
posted about 8 years ago
Morning
Two questions:

1. Why are universities increasing the number of PhD students?
2. How are universities making money out of PhD students?
3. How are universities benefiting from PhD students?

Thank you
posted
26-Jun-12, 12:26
Avatar for screamingaddabs
posted about 8 years ago
Um that's three questions ;-)

As far as I can see:

PhD students pay fees - this is money for the university. Even if you are funded, your fees are covered by the funding.

Hence they want more PhDs

They are benfitting from:

- More money
- More publications by the university
- If you are cynical you could say "cheap labour" for things like TA work and/or other work.
- Professors need people to do a lot of the work they propose. This work brings in more funding for the uni.
posted
26-Jun-12, 12:31
edited about 15 seconds later
Avatar for flagrandom
posted about 8 years ago
ahaha oops! 3 questions! was initially meant to be 2 ...doh

Quote From screamingaddabs:

Um that's three questions ;-)

As far as I can see:

PhD students pay fees - this is money for the university. Even if you are funded, your fees are covered by the funding.

Hence they want more PhDs

They are benfitting from:

- More money
- More publications by the university
- If you are cynical you could say "cheap labour" for things like TA work and/or other work.
- Professors need people to do a lot of the work they propose. This work brings in more funding for the uni.

posted
26-Jun-12, 13:19
edited about 2 seconds later
Avatar for Mackem_Beefy
posted about 8 years ago
Quote From screamingaddabs:

Um that's three questions ;-)

As far as I can see:

PhD students pay fees - this is money for the university. Even if you are funded, your fees are covered by the funding.

Hence they want more PhDs

They are benfitting from:

- More money
- More publications by the university
- If you are cynical you could say "cheap labour" for things like TA work and/or other work.
- Professors need people to do a lot of the work they propose. This work brings in more funding for the uni.


Yup, they are increasing the number of PhD students, even though there's an oversupply of PhD-qualified candidates than there are available post-doc positions. So you get a viscious circle of qualified PhD students struggling to find work afterwards (and are 'overqualified'), whilst the Universities hire more PhD students as it's cheaper than keeping their old students on as post-docs (or rather, they keep more money from the research grant from a student compared to a post-doc). ;-)

Oh I can be very cynical!!! :-)

Ian (Mackem_Beefy)
posted
26-Jun-12, 13:30
edited about 11 seconds later
Avatar for Smoobles
posted about 8 years ago
======= Date Modified 26 Jun 2012 13:31:25 =======
I agree with all the points made below. PhD students bring in money, generate publications, provide cheap labour for teaching/demonstrating, and can also do additional donkey work for the supervisor that isn't strictly related to their PhD. And I don't mean to sound cynical when I say that; it is a mutually beneficial relationship (or at least it should be, and hopefully is for most people) whereby the supervisor and university get cheap/free labour now and then and the student gets additional teaching/lab experience as they go along.

It also makes the supervisor look good if they have lots of PhD students as it brings in additional money (through external funding) which may be used to buy new software or equipment etc that more than one student gets to benefit from.

I know in my personal experience the research council that funded me gave a lot of additional money to my department that was supposedly set aside to fund conference travel, equipment etc - I'm pretty sure I didn't use it all and so the rest magically disappeared into the department to spend on other students (not that I am complaining - I spent plenty of it myself and would hate for the rest to be wasted - I would much rather it got sneakily redistributed to benefit other students who weren't fortunate enough to have such a large amount of funding).
posted
26-Jun-12, 16:35
edited about 20 seconds later
Avatar for bewildered
posted about 8 years ago
I think things are very different in the sciences (at least where lab work is involved and so PhDs are used more as research assistants) than elsewhere. I'm in the social sciences and the university that employs me has told us to decrease the number of PhD students as we apparently actually lose money on the PhD programmes. We are now being extremely selective - at a time when PhD applications have rocketed, the last figures I saw suggested that we were rejecting about 80%. I don't think some of the reasons others have given work for us either. In my area, it's fairly rare for PhD students to publish with their supervisors, and any publications they have on their own don't count for the REF (and only REF-able publications benefit the university). Student complaints about PhD students teaching them are also going up massively. I teach a first year module and have just this morning fielded a phone call from a furious parent claiming that their child had only failed because of being taught by an unqualified person (not true at all but there was no way it could be the student's fault). I have a strong suspicion that in an era of £9k undergraduate fees that it will not be defensible above first year level for much longer. The really sad thing is that our PhD students get paid the same as other hourly paid lecturers and there is a long queue of people with PhDs desperate to teach for us, so it's not really a problem if they do stop PhD students teaching.

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