Fewer graduate students

Hmmm.  Has graduate education gotten too expensive?  Or is this an early indicator that employment and the economy is improving.  No, seriously...

From Audrey Williams June writing in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

New Graduate-Student Enrollment Dips for First Time in 7 Years
Between the fall of 2009 and the fall of 2010, enrollment of new students fell by 1.1 percent, according to the report, "Graduate Enrollment and Degrees: 2000 to 2010," which was released today. In comparison, the enrollment of new graduate students a year earlier, in the fall of 2009, had increased by 5.5 percent from the year before. Applications to American graduate schools for the fall of 2010 were up by 8.4 percent from the previous year, the report says.

The report doesn't explain why the drop in enrollment occurred at a time when graduate programs would normally be packed. Historically, an economic downturn drives up the number of first-time graduate students as they seek advanced degrees to upgrade their skills to get an edge in the job market. But Debra W. Stewart, president of the council, said anecdotal evidence, from graduate students and the graduate schools that are members of the council, point to the protracted recession as the likely culprit.

"When a recession goes on as long as this one has, if people still have a job, they don't want to leave it to go to graduate school," Ms. Stewart said. "They're not going to do that if they believe they have one of the few jobs left out there."

Graduate students who would have pursued degrees in fields that aren't known for awarding stipends—such as education, business, and public administration, which all saw declines in enrollment, according to the report—might have also seen the money they saved to pay for their education dwindle as they tried to ride out the recession, Ms. Stewart said.

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