Graduate Students and the Future of Higher Education


Today’s graduate students are caught in the swirl of several current trends that, if unchanged, lead toward a difficult future for them and for higher education.

As students, they shoulder their share of the growing $1 billion in student loan debt and the daunting problems that burden carries.  (In fact, as some colleges have worked to limit increases in undergraduate tuition, they have often made up the difference through larger increases in graduation tuition.  Reduced financial aid for graduate students adds any more to their debt load.)

As the next generation of higher ed faculty, these graduates face a grim job market and the prospects of joining the burgeoning ranks of part-time, abysmally-compensated contingent faculty, who are now the majority of the American professoriate.

The recent agreement, after an eight-year struggle, between the NYU administration and the UAW Graduate Employee union to extend collective bargaining to most NYU graduate employees is a welcome acknowledgment that this group in higher education deserves a better deal.  Extending these rights to ALL graduate students, including science and engineering students, will be an important next step at NYU.

National recognition of the right for graduate student employees, who do significant teaching and research work for our universities, to collectively bargain the terms and conditions of their employment is an important next step for the future of higher education.

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