The Next Generation of Academics: An Uncertain Future

The Teaching Assistants in Toronto’s two largest universities are on strike. The issue is not simply one of money. I (Clare) read with interest an article about the strike in the Globe and Mail today. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/for-10000-of-canadas-young-academics-on-the-picket-lines-theres-a-lot-more-at-stake-than-42-an-hour/article23346532/

One of their major concerns is future employment. The article by Simona Chiose provides some startling statistics re: supply and demand. In 2012 there were 6,393 PhD graduates yet between 2008-2011 there were only 3,030 new full-time faculty positions. Graduates are being hired to limited term or part-time positions, not full-time tenure stream positions. And those of us in universities know that more and more courses are being taught by part-time faculty and that trying to survive on a salary of course stipends (which tend to be abysmally low) is nearly impossible. The Teaching Assistants with whom I have worked over the years have been hard-working, smart, keen, and committed yet their future is dim. The life of a grad student is hard. Let’s try to make their future more secure.

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