Archive for the 'The Economy' Category

Future Higher Education – Why not NOW?

Big Picture Thoughts, Controversy, The Economy No Comments »

Here’s a really interesting look at the potential for individually-tailored freedom to learn within higher education in the future.

Stanford 2025

At first, it looks like a self-serving description of how good Stanford thinks it is now, but then it switches gears and describes an experimental look at what higher education COULD be, after an imaginary “major paradigm shift that ‘happened’ around 2025.” And, it invites us to look at the imaginary future of higher education in the year 2100.

At the bottom of the page, you can choose “a future to explore,” beginning with any of the following segments, Open Loop University, Paced Education, Axis Flip, Purpose Learning, or Design A Future.

Each of the first four describes a utopian segment of an entire system that rights so many of the parts of the system that are wrong for our current socio-economic system, with its embedded system of education, in lock step with the past.  Read it and ask, along with me, “Why not do this NOW?”

The last-mentioned segment, Design a Future, gives you the chance to do just that. You have three sections to begin forming your own ideas: first, for reflection; second, for imagining; and third, for trying out activities and suggestions to get started.

Try it – it’s a wonderful opportunity to loosen our unthinking adherence to the cultural patterns that tend to trap us with in-the-box thinking – by simply asking “Why?” and “Why NOT?”

Grim Job News for Academics

Big Picture Thoughts, Job Search, The Economy No Comments »

It was so easy to find grim news on tenure-track jobs for academics in general (not just historians and anthropologists), that I’m going to include links to a few of the best and yet the most depressing articles, just for your night-time reading enjoyment.  (Note that not all are from the immediately recent past; the problems have been building for more than a few days.)

Academics Receiving Government Aid, (2012)
Four Academics on Food Stamps, (2012)
The PhD Now Comes With Food Stamps, (2012)  These three articles in the Chronicle of Higher Ed in May, 2012, spawned a series of articles in other publications, including the Huffington Post, Number of PhD Recipients Using Food Stamps Surged During Recession: Report, (2012) and Adjunct Nation,  When Faculty Can No Longer Teach: PhDs on Foodstamps Center Stage in Academe, (2012)

State Budgeters’ View of Higher Education, (2013) A report from the National Association of State Budget Officers, described in Inside Higher Ed, unsurprisingly finds that many states have cut funding for higher education – more than for prisons and Medicaid, and warns that tuition raises will not be enough to save the institutions.

Is Your College Going Out of Business? (2013)  Mark Cuban’s startling article generated a storm of comment (760 within just a few months), most of whom agreed with him, and while the article spotlights undergrad education, if public research institutions should “go out of business,” grad schools will go with…

A Grim Year on the Academic Job Market for Historians, (2012) from AHA, Perspectives on History (The title of this article, and the sad facts, could be repeated with any number of academic disciplines, mostly humanities and social sciences, but the “harder” sciences are not immune to the threat.)

Here are two more, earlier articles full of devastating statistics, which generated a storm of comments. But not much changed.
The Disappearing Tenure Track Job, (2009), Inside Higher Ed
The Disposable Academic, (2010)  from The Economist

The Chronicle Launches the Adjunct Project, (2013)   The Chronicle of Higher Education recently launched an interesting “Project,” which it terms a “tool.” They began collecting salary data from individuals teaching as adjuncts, and the site now allows a search of adjunct salary data from individual institutions. It also offers advice on working as an adjunct (and teaching).  It may be a little too scary for good bedtime reading.

Actually, most of these articles are a bit too scary for good bedtime reading…


How Long Does It Take To Get a Government Job?

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I recently got this question and am sorry to tell you that the only possible answer is, “It depends.”

I have seen both extremes in the government hiring process (when I was a career counselor at a major university). The stereotype we hear is “about six months….” and it’s as good an answer as any – in general.

One extreme case I remember was a grad student in International Affairs, who was focusing on Eastern European Studies. He waited nearly three years for his state department job to come through. (That is, he was on the list of approved hires for that long, before a position actually came open!)  This was the longest waiting period I have heard of.

I also remember getting a call from a government agency hiring manager who was about to attend a campus career fair the next day, who wanted to me to alert the students in a particular discipline that her local agency office had just received a budget increase and they had to be able to hire three people within the next ten days, or they would lose the money.  That was the shortest government hiring period I ever heard of.

Here’s another situation I heard of occasionally (which is more common for entry-level jobs, especially those at bachelor degree levels). You can recognize these when you see a job listed as open, but there’s no application deadline. It usually means that an agency is simply collecting applications in anticipation of hiring a large number of people at the same time, with the same job title, but at different locations across the country. (I’ve seen them for the Forest Service and National Park Service, but many other agencies have multiple openings, too.)  Again, the actual date of hiring may depend on that agency’s budget, and they want to have a number of applicants in reserve when the budget increases, or in case the money comes through at the last minute. (Think congressional approval …..)

In some ways, you can look at the patience you may need while waiting for a government job as part of the criteria for being able to work happily in government – it is a bureaucracy, after all, with all the pros and cons that come along with it.

International Students Studying in the US Need to Know Early About H-1B Visas

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Especially if you are in grad school in the US, it is in your best interest to know about how H-1B visas work, if you hope to work in the US for 1-2 years after you attain your degree. The number is capped and all the slots may be filled early in the year. Even if you plan to graduate in June, your job search should begin by January or earlier, to have a better chance for one of those visas.

If you are applying to a large business organization, check to see if they have H-1B visas available before you spend great effort applying. If not, go find another employer who will have or has H-1B visas for the year when you expect to graduate.

Note that few small U.S. businesses know about the H-1B visa process. If you find a small business that wants to hire you, you may have to help them get you through the process. (The more you know about it very early in your student career, the more you’ll be able to move through the process to get the outcome you want.)

Two important points to be aware of:

  • A limited number of H-1B visas are given annually – 85,000 this year, and only 20,000 are reserved for graduates of US universities
  • US Citizenship and Immigration Services began accepting H-1B applications in early April this year (for new employees to begin October 1), and all visas were gone by early June.

According to attorney Carl Shusterman, who specializes in recruiting issues, in an article in Recruiting Trends, “Of these 85,000 visas, 20,000 are reserved for persons in possession of an advanced degree from a university in the U.S. Last year, the 20,000 cap was reached on October 28, while the 65,000 cap was reached less than one month later on November 22. This year, all 85,000 visas were already exhausted in early June.”

Note that there are some exceptions to the H-1B rule, in that some kinds of organizations are exempt and can hire without the H-1B. This includes accredited public higher education institutions and their affiliated nonprofits, as well as research organizations (nonprofits and governmental).

However, in all cases, to get details that apply specifically to you, see your campus office that serves international students, and/or find an immigration attorney for clarification.

Saving the “Academic Core”

Big Picture Thoughts, The Economy 1 Comment »

Last month, I wrote “Why Academics Need a Career Plan B (And Maybe Plan C)” for Job-Hunt, and unfortunately, it’s already time to update it. The University of California-Berkeley emailed everyone on campus this week that 280 more jobs have been eliminated, beyond the 500 already cut from the system. (It should be noted that nearly half are retirements and “voluntary” separations, but the salient point is that those jobs no longer exist.)

Apparently these cuts had been planned even before Governor Jerry Brown proposed another $500 million in cuts to the UC system. (Newspaper articles have stated that no jobs being cut came from faculty or campus police positions, nor were undergrad student jobs eliminated.)

But these cuts are merely part of a longer series – with more to come. Late in September last year, five sports programs were also cut at UCBerkeley: baseball, men’s rugby, men’s and women’s gymnastics and women’s lacrosse – with an expectation of saving $4 million a year. In November, tuition was raised to $50,649 (including fees and room/board) for out-of-state students – and this is after Berkeley had raised tuition 30% for 2009.

So far, most of the cuts have affected staff positions, rather than faculty, police and mental health counselors, and I assume that most colleges and universities are trying to “save the academic core” of the institution (a phrase I first heard in a university email from the then-President of the University of Washington, yet another institution affected by cuts by the local state legislature – and anticipating more.)

But at some point, in some states, at some institutions, the cuts will go into the bone and faculty will find themselves on the block, too. Best to start checking out the alternatives….

(If you’re looking for more depressing news on this dismal topic, search the Internet for UC Berkeley job cuts 2011, or university layoffs 2011, or …you get the picture, right?)

Non-Academic Employment Trending Up

The Economy No Comments »

A survey by CareerBuilder, one of the larger career/recruiting companies, reveals “stronger employment trends” in 2011, and it is echoed by a number of positive employment reports in various local Business Journals (see below).

While the figures are not extraordinary, with only 24% of employers surveyed saying they plan to hire full-time, permanent employees in 2011, they are at least on the up side for a change. Only 13% anticipate hiring part-time employees, but 34% plan to hire temporary and/or contract workers.

The top 10 “functional” areas (across all industries) for hiring are, in order:  sales, information technology, customer service, engineering, technology, administrative, business development, marketing, research/development and accounting/finance.

More employers in the West plan to hire in 2011 than those in the Northeast, followed by those in the central US and South.

Here are some of the positive articles I’ve seen recently, thanks to the Business Journal regional editions.

Be of good cheer in the New Year!