Thursday, February 11, 2010

Yale University Announces: We'll Eat our Seed Corn

In a letter to the faculty and staff of Yale, President Richard Levin announced that he was seeking $150 million of savings in order to balance their budget. Among other cost reductions, he said that the number of new students admitted into the Graduate School will be reduced by 10-15%.

No detail was given on what schools would see the reductions, but this is depressing. In my world at least, great PhDs are in extremely short supply, and we should be increasing the numbers.

Levin attempts to temper the news by saying that the number of graduate students will be no lower than a decade ago.

So...a decade of no growth in Yale graduate students. Did the population of the world not grow in the last decade? Did the world's demands for doctorates stay level?

This cut in graduate school admissions needs to be put into the context of flat undergraduate admissions at the nation's top colleges, especially the Ivy League. When these schools were flush with cash, instead of admitting more students, they gave away more financial aid to the existing students and put up nice new buildings. The choke point at the top of the pyramid just got tighter and tighter: a larger US population, more global applicants, yet the same number of students being let through the doors of opportunity.

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