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The academic job market has become increasingly competitive for PhD graduates. In this note, we ask the basic question of 'Are we producing more PhDs than needed?' We take a systems approach and offer a 'birth rate' perspective: professors graduate PhDs who later become professors themselves, an analogue to how a population grows. We show that the reproduction rate in academia is very high. For example, in engineering, a professor in the US graduates 7.8 new PhDs during his/her whole career on average, and only one of these graduates can replace the professor's position. This implies that in a steady state, only 12.8% of PhD graduates can attain academic positions in the USA. The key insight is that the system in many places is saturated, far beyond capacity to absorb new PhDs in academia at the rates that they are being produced. Based on the analysis, we discuss policy implications.
Research Note
Too Many PhD Graduates or Too Few
Academic Job Openings: The Basic
Reproductive Number R
in Academia
Richard C. Larson
, Navid Ghaffarzadegan
*and Yi Xue
Engineering Systems Division, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, USA
Grado Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA
The academic job market has become increasingly competitive for PhD graduates. In this
note, we ask the basic question of Are we producing more PhDs than needed?We take a
systems approach and offer a birth rateperspective: professors graduate PhDs who later
become professors themselves, an analogue to how a population grows. We show that the
reproduction rate in academia is very high. For example, in engineering, a professor in the
US graduates 7.8 new PhDs during his/her whole career on average, and only one of
these graduates can replace the professors position. This implies that in a steady state,
only 12.8% of PhD graduates can attain academic positions in the USA. The key insight
is that the system in many places is saturated, far beyond capacity to absorb new PhDs
in academia at the rates that they are being produced. Based on the analysis, we discuss
policy implications. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Keywords higher education policy; unemployment; R
; engineering workforce development;
research workforce development
The academic job market has become more and
more competitive. PhD graduates are nding it
increasingly difcult to land tenure-track aca-
demic positions. Candidates are often expected
to have several publications in leading journals,
putting lots of pressure on them during their
training period. Many PhD graduates are unem-
ployed or underemployed (National Science Founda-
tion, 2012; Chapter 3). Reports even state that there
are PhD graduates on food stamps (Nichols, 2012).
Nowadays, less than 17% of new PhDs in science,
engineering and health-related elds nd tenure-
track positions within 3 years after graduation
(National Science Foundation, 2012; Chapter 3).
ManyPhDswhodonotnd tenure-track positions
turn to positions outside academia. Others who
think that they will have better future opportunities
* Correspondence to: Navid Ghaffarzadegan, Grado Department of
Industrialand Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, USA.
Received 5 February 2013
Accepted 28 July 2013Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Systems Research and Behavioral Science
Syst. Res. 31, 745750 (2014)
Published online 9 September 2013 in Wiley Online Library
( DOI: 10.1002/sres.2210
accept relatively low-paying academic jobs such as
postdoctoral positions and stay in the market for a
prolongedperiod(Ghaffarzadeganet al., 2013).
Many engineering PhDs go the entrepreneurial
route and become involved in startups or work in
national research labs or commercial R&D centres.
On the demand side, the number of tenure-track
positions in a wide range of elds is steady or
Foundation, 2012; Chapter 5). Except computer
science, which experienced rapid growth in the past
30 years, and life sciences with the average growth
of 1.5% per year, many elds have seen little
increase in their faculty slots (National Science
Foundation, 2012; Chapter 5). This means new hires
can only replace people who leave, as openings are
closely tracking retirement and exit rates. Addition-
ally, due to the abandonment of xed retirement
age, the mean duration of a faculty career has
increased, resulting in a concomitant decrease in
new slots available (Larson and Gomez, 2012).
Considering the trends, a basic question to ask
is, Are we producing more PhDs than needed?
If yes, how far are we from a desired condition
in which every qualied applicant interested in
a tenure-track academic position can nd such a
position? We focus on the endogenous nature of
the problem (Richardson, 2011) and borrow the
concept of R
in demography and epidemiology
(Sharpe and Lotka, 1911) to shed more light on
this problem. Our approach corroborates with
several arguments in favour of applying systems
approaches to the study of higher education (e.g.
Brown, 1999; Bianchi, 2010; Kennedy, 2011).
denotes the basic reproductive number or rate.
In demography, R
is dened as the mean number
of baby girls that a typical newly born baby girl will
have in her lifetime. Neglecting infant deaths, if
>1.0, then the population will grow over time.
If R
<1.0, it will decline. And R
= 1.0 yields a
stable population. For example, R
for China and
the USA are currently estimated at 0.78 and 1.03,
respectively (CIA World Factbook, 2012). In epide-
miology, R
is the mean number of people that a
typical newly infected person will infect during
his or her infectious period, assuming that virtually
everyone in the population is susceptible to the
disease. If a disease has R
>1.0, there is initially
infected. For example, R
for seasonal u is typically
about 1.2; for H1N1, it was reported to be in the
range of 1.4 to 1.6 (Barry, 2009; Brown, 2010);
and for the deadly 1918 Great Inuenza,itwas
estimated to be as high as 4.0 (Astudillo, 2009).
Note that, in demography and epidemiology,
any R
value greater than 1.0 implies exponential
We can use the R
metaphor in academia and
offer the following denition:
is dened as the mean number of new PhDs
that a typical tenure-track faculty member will
graduate during his or her academic career.
When R
= 1.0, each professor, on average,
graduates one new PhD that can replace him or
her. But, assuming a xed number of faculty slots,
>1.0 means that there are more PhD graduates
than existing faculty positions. Depending on
magnitude, this may or may not be acceptable
because not all of PhD graduates desire
academic positions. For R
<1.0, the number of
PhDs in a eld is declining and the eld will
eventually die.
For academic elds with R
>1.0, an exponential
growth in university capacities would be required
so that every graduate has an opportunity to as-
sume a tenure-track position. If αis the ratio of the
number of PhD graduates interested in tenure-track
positions to the total number of PhD graduates, and
ris the average growth ratio of faculty slots, we
should have R01þrT
demic openings for all PhD graduates, where Tis
the average period of career.
For example, given
If αratio of PhD graduates desire tenure-track positions, to have job
for everybody interested, we should have
αnew PhDs ¼exit rate þgrowth rate (1)
If the number of faculty members is F, the exit rate is approximately F
and growth rate is rF. Then, Equation (1) can be written as
We can solve Equation (2) for
Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Syst. Res. 31, 745750 (2014)
DOI: 10.1002/sres.2210
746 Richard C. Larson et al.
a yearly growth rate of 1%, and average career of
20 years in academia, assuming 50% of graduates
desire tenure-track positions, there will be at least
one opening per PhD graduate interested in aca-
demic jobs only if R
2.4. However, the actual
numbers for R
are often dramatically outside of
this range.
Let us start with a simple example from our home
university, the Massachusetts Institute of Technol-
ogy (MIT). The Institutes total number of tenure-
track faculty members has remained essentially
around 1000 for over three decades. MIT under-
takes about 50 faculty searches each year, looking
almost exclusively for young assistant professors.
Applying Littles Law (Little, 1961), the mean
MIT faculty career length is approximately 1000/
50 = 20 years (Larson and Gomez, 2012). Please
keep in mind that this is an average, and that some
assistant professors will leaveinlessthan7years,
and others obtaining tenure may remain on the fac-
ulty for up to 50 years. For the past 15 years, MIT
has been producing about 500 PhDs per year or
about 0.5 PhDs per faculty member per year. This
suggests that over a 20-year career of the average
MIT faculty member, she/he produces approxi-
mately 10 PhDs. To rstorderweseethatforthe
typicalMIT faculty member, R
= 10. Taking a ho-
listic view of academia, only one of these 10 could
the faculty. But that leaves nine newly minted
PhDs who cannot.
Now, we apply R
to the eld of engineering
in academia in the USA. We use the 2011 data
from the American Society of Engineering
Education reporting the number of PhD gradu-
ates and faculty members for all engineering
departments in the United States.
The data are available at an aggregate level for
each eld. By using the number of PhD graduates
in different engineering elds and the number of
tenure-track faculty members in those elds, we
can estimate the average number of PhD graduates
per faculty members in each eld. In this dataset,
the number of faculty members includes all types
of engineering programmes at US institutions,
regardless of whether they grant PhD degrees or
not (such as 4-year undergraduate colleges). This
gives a more accurate estimation of the number of
faculty slots available in academia. Multiplying
the ratio of PhD graduates to faculty members with
the average duration of an academic career
provides an estimation of R
for different engineer-
ing elds in the USA. Based on Larson and Gomez
(2012), the average duration of a tenure-track career
was approximated to be 20 years. Results for differ-
ent engineering elds are depicted in Figure 1.
As Figure 1 shows, there is considerable variation
across elds with an average of R
=7.8 for the
whole eld of engineering. Put simply, this indi-
cates that an average faculty member in a US higher
education institutions engineering department
graduates 7.8 new PhDs during her or his career.
If the number of faculty positions remains constant,
a tenure-track position is only available for 1/7.8,
that is 12.8% of new PhD graduates. In order to
have faculty openings in the USA for 50% of the
graduates, the whole eld would need to grow at
an improbable rate of 14% every year.
Interestingly, there is considerable variation
across the different engineering elds, with a
standard deviation of 4.6. Some elds have R
much higher than average, such as biomedical
= 13.6) and environmental engineering
= 19.0). Figure 1 also depicts elds with a
higher number of PhD graduates in 2011 with
darker bars. The eld of Metallurgical and
Material Engineering, with more than 500 PhD
graduates per year, also has a high PhD pro-
duction rate, indicated by R
= 15.4.
At the other end of the spectrum, elds such as
Mining or Architectural Engineering do not
produce as many PhDs per faculty as the other
engineering elds with a R
close to one, and
the number of PhDs graduated in 2011 is low as
well, as depicted by the lighter bars. Unless
university capacities are shrinking in these two
elds, graduates should not have serious prob-
lems in nding academic positions.
Data from American Society for Engineering EducationsEngineer-
ing by the Numbers2011 Report.
statistics.pdf [24 September 2012]
Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Syst. Res. 31, 745750 (2014)
DOI: 10.1002/sres.2210
The Basic Reproductive Number R
in Academia 747
We recognize that in using a simple model, sev-
eral parameters that are not part of our analysis
may pose limitations (Ghaffarzadegan et al.,
2011). One consideration is that many engineer-
ing doctorates are not interested in academic
positions and may not even compete for
tenure-track positions in academia. Another
consideration is that some engineering gradu-
ates are foreign citizens who take academic
positions outside of the USA.
Another factor is
inter-eld hiring. Engineering doctorates might
obtain positions in other elds such as science or
business, which would also diminish the gap.
Overall, these points do not affect our estima-
tion of R
, and the fact that in a steady state
condition, the physics of the system dictates that
of the population of engineering graduates
can nd tenure-track faculty positions in engi-
neering departments at US higher education
institutions, regardless of their interest in such
positions. The rest of the population (11/R
should pursue other careers or nd academic
positions in other elds or other countries.
Finally, we do not have a precise estimation of
the duration of an average academic career. In
our estimation of R
for the eld of engineering,
we used the estimate of 20 years from our home
institute, MIT (Larson and Gomez, 2012). It is
likely that faculty members that leave MIT
pursue academic positions in other universities,
which implies that we might have underestimated
the duration of career in academia, and thus
underestimated R
. In other words, R
in engineer-
ing elds might be even higher than 7.8.
It is important to state that our intention in this
paper was not to introduce an optimal value for
, which might depend on several social and
behavioral factors such as peoples interest in
obtaining PhD level education and pursuing
academic careers. Our main intention was to
provide a simple concept and measurement tool
(Richardson, 2013), that can intuitively depict
supply side challenges in the academic job market
and provide rst order, interesting policy insights.
About one third of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics
PhDs are non-US citizens (Wasem 2012). Based on a report by National
Science Foundation (2012; Appendix 320), 77.2% of non-US citizen
doctorates of science and engineering who received their degree
between 2006 and 2009 intended to stay in the USA. This means 7.5%
of PhD graduates in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics
elds will not pursue academic careers in the USA.
The report is available from
statistics.pdf [24 September 2012].
1.0 1.0
2.5 3.2
5.5 5.6 5.8 6.7 7.1 7.2 7.4
8.7 9.1 9.1 9.5 10.310.8
R0 for Entire Field of Engineering = 7.8
Figure 1 R
estimation for different engineering elds (based on authorscalculation from the American Society of
Engineering Education report
Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Syst. Res. 31, 745750 (2014)
DOI: 10.1002/sres.2210
748 Richard C. Larson et al.
By applying the concept of R
to academia, we have
offered a birth rateperspective on challenges that
current PhD graduates face in the academic job
market. Our back-of-the-envelope calculations
suggest that R
for the entire engineering eld is
7.8, which implies that in a steady state, only 1/7.8
(i.e. 12.8%) of PhD graduates in engineering can at-
tain academic positions in the USA. The key insight
is that the system in many places is saturated, far
beyond capacity to absorb new PhDs in academia
at the rates that they are being produced. In elds
where PhD graduates are relatively more interested
in nding academic positions, a high R
leads to
more competition amongst job market applicants.
and many doctorates with
an interest in academic careers is signicant growth
in postdoctoral appointments (e.g. see Federation of
American Societies for Experimental Biology, 2012;
Ghaffarzadegan et al., 2013).
High PhD reproduction in academia follows a
similar reinforcing feedback loop (Sterman, 2000;
Richardson, 2011) that creates population growth
in demography: more faculty members produce
more PhD graduates, some of whom become
new faculty members. The mechanism may
work stronger as an unintended consequence
of ramped up government funding on the
research enterprise (Teitelbaum, 2008; Gomez
et al., 2012; Larson et al., 2012). We see that it
can also affect the higher education enterprise,
exacerbate job market challenges and cause
more unemployment and underemployment of
PhD graduates.
In demography, any living population eventu-
ally meets a ceiling of limited resources. Similarly
in academia, the growing PhD population will
eventually hit the natural ceiling of limited
tenure-track positions. In some elds, it already
has hit that limit. The physics of the system
requires that the oversupply must move to non-
academic positions or be underemployed in
careers that require lesser degrees. Simply
increasing the number of faculty slots will not
solve the problem. More openings will increase
the numbers of professors, and given their high
birth rates,the number of future PhD graduates.
It is a positive feedback loop.
Our results may appear to be at odds with the
national consensus of a current Science, Technol-
ogy, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) crisis
in the USA. We admit that there is a great
demand for STEM graduates by American
employers and yet many new STEM PhDs
remain underemployed (Gomez et al., 2012). The
matching of graduates to STEM careers varies
markedly by degree level and specialization.
Our analysis has shown that there are more
STEM PhDs than the academic market can
absorb, while the number of young people with
lesser STEM credentials falls signicantly short
of market demand. At the education enterprise
level, more focus on undergraduate and Masters
level graduates can help ameliorate the STEM
workforce supplydemand imbalance.
Given the national need for continued strong
doctoral level research, an engineering design
puzzle persists: How to design the academic
research enterprise so as to perform the research
effectively while at the same time reducing the
PhD birth rateof professors. It may mean that
we must accept continued growing use of post-
docs and other PhD-level researchers who will
never become tenure-track faculty members.
But, if this is true, we owe it to these young peo-
ple, before they embark on a doctoral path, to
manage appropriately their career expectations.
The National Institute of General Medical Sciences
of the National Institutes of Health supported this
work (Grant 5U01GM094141-02). The grant,
Developing a Scientic Workforce Analysis and
Modeling Framework,was awarded to the Ohio
State University and the MIT. The discussion and
conclusions in this paper are those of the authors
and do not necessarily represent the views of the
National Institutes of Health, the Ohio State
University or MIT.
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750 Richard C. Larson et al.
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... Notwithstanding, the number of doctoral candidates has increased over the last decades [6]; although this increase is welcomed by different sectors in our societies, it also poses major challenges to the social responsibility that HEIs have in promoting doctoral candidates' future employment in their areas of study as well as in developing wider employability prospects. Many engineering students start their doctoral journeys motivated by the possibility of becoming an engineering academic -however, the availability of academic jobs, in both teaching and research, is lower than the number of PhD positions [7]. ...
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ROSES IN, ROSES OUT – HOW THE FRAMEWORK OF MANAGEMENT BY COMPETENCIES IN HRM CAN HELP ADDRESS THE ISSUE OF DOCTORAL CANDIDATES AND GRADUATES SOFT SKILLS DEVELOPMENT IN ENGINEERING H. Martins1, I. Direito2, A. Freitas3, A. Salgado4 1CEOS.PP (PORTUGAL) 2University College London (UNITED KINGDOM) 3Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto (PORTUGAL) 4Polytechnic Institute of Porto (PORTUGAL) Over the last decades, the number of doctoral students enrolled in engineering doctoral programmes, as well as the number of academic researchers in engineering, has increased. This poses major challenges to Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), which have the societal responsibility to promote their PhD candidates’ employment but also employability prospects. In many educational systems, the doctorate programmes are almost exclusively research-based and the skills-set developed during it, is left to the candidates’ voluntary choices and opportunities that arise. Other educational systems which offer doctoral programmes with a taught component usually teach highly technical and discipline-specific skills, and barely address the development of transferable skills. These technical and discipline-specific skills may be enough to promote the candidates’ employment prospects, in their field of study, but they do not promote employability perceived as “intangible” competencies that often separate highly qualified employees from average workers. Supporting this, stakeholders inquiries often point out that PhD candidates, although demonstrating a wide range of technical skills, still need to develop more of the transversal and transferable skills required to succeed in the workplace, such as leadership, communication, and teamwork skills. Therefore, there seems to be a décalage between what skills are promoted and developed during a doctoral programme and what skills the labour market expects and requires of a PhD graduate. Aligned with these industry’s perspectives, literature has been pointing out that 3rd cycle studies do not prepare PhD candidates for jobs outside academia (2,3) and many scholars have recommended the redesign of engineering doctoral education programmes in order to tackle the skills gap, and support PhD graduates transition from education into employment (4). Some companies have long tried to mitigate the impact and effects of the competencies gap by considering the Peter Principle (4) and appropriately adopting an optimal strategy of Human Resources Management (HRM) by promoting competencies training. We propose a similar framework of Doctoral Candidates Management by timely and intentionally promoting formal opportunities of transversal and transferable competencies development. This paper will focus on the need to adopt an HRM framework for Doctoral Candidates in order to overcome the gap between academic perceptions on what should be a PhD candidates’ training and the labour market expectations for a PhD graduate. It will also be discussed how HEIs can implement the competencies training. keywords: doctoral training, doctoral education, human resources management, framework, management by competencies.
... Cooperative scientific research is a new trend in the science community nowadays due to the growth of number of researchers [1][2][3], the faster propagation of knowledge through the Internet [4][5][6][7] and the many new interdisciplinary research topics [8,9], etc. Research groups ranging from a few scientists to international institutions can study related problems and build upon each other's works. In the early pioneering days, the activity of scientific research was the solitary work of a few geniuses of the world and the spirits of independent thinking and skepticism were highly valued. ...
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Modern scientific research has become largely a cooperative activity in the Internet age. We build a simulation model to understand the population-level creativity based on the heuristic ant colony algorithm. Each researcher has two heuristic parameters characterizing the goodness of his own judgments and his trust on literature. We study how the distributions of contributor heuristic parameters change with the research problem scale, stage of the research problem, and computing power available. We also identify situations where path dependence and hasty research due to the pressure on productivity can significantly impede the long-term advancement of scientific research. Our work provides some preliminary understanding and guidance for the dynamical process of cooperative scientific research in various disciplines.
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Universities around the world are undergoing a marketisation process in order to respond to consumer-oriented demands. Despite priority shifts, universities have remained traditionally hierarchical and elitist. Moreover, a new and growing generation of academic researchers has found it increasingly difficult to integrate in academia. Systems and patterns of behaviour breeding cultural narcissism, intended as a value and cultural system characterised by an investment in false self-projections backed by Machiavellian attainment, exist and appear to thrive in academic institutions. This organizational adaptation for survival is now embedded in higher education and interlinked with mobbing, workplace bullying and academic misconduct. The problematics we are witnessing today in many academic settings (high rates of mental health issues, widespread research misconduct scandals and loss of credibility of academic research) are a by-product of an organizational narcissistic culture. Amidst economic shifts, it might seem reasonable to adopt measures aimed at increasing assets, invest in highly entrepreneurial academics who attract financial resources to universities and use any means to salvage the reputations of educational institutions. Yet these strategies might be promoting and perpetuating value systems that are undermining academic integrity, and therefore contributing to the scientific credibility crisis and failure of these institutions.
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The public health context is becoming increasingly more complex requiring highly trained professionals equipped with knowledge, competencies and tools to address or transform current and future challenges. Doctoral degree training offers an opportunity to build the capacity to detect and respond to such dynamic health challenges. In this paper, we discuss how Africa’s public health doctoral students can be better positioned for the different career pathways to provide leadership on complex health and development challenges. Public health PhD graduates can take up careers in academia, civil service, private sector and civil society, among others. To thrive in these pathways, PhD training should equip them with knowledge, skills and competencies in leadership, creativity and social competence among others. To produce career-ready PhD graduates, there is need to rethink training curricula to build critical skills for diverse career pathways, introduce students to entrepreneurship, and enhance linkages between universities and industry. Experiential learning, exposure to networks and partnerships, postdoctoral programmes and mentorship and exchange programmes can further equip PhD students with key knowledge, skills and competencies. For students to position themselves for the different careers, they ought to plan their careers early, albeit with flexibility. Students should build their soft skills and embrace technology among other transferable competencies. By identifying potential career pathways and being positioned for these early, Africa can produce transformative PhD students on a path for success not just for themselves but for society at large, including in new environments such as that created by COVID-19.
This project uses three years (2017–2020) of survey data and job announcements to analyze the alignment between doctoral education and the academic job market in Planning. Graduates are competitive, having teaching experience and published or publishable research. The primary job market (i.e., the Association of Collegiate Schools of Planning [ACSP] Career Center) likely accommodates 50 to 60 percent of graduates finding academic employment (or about 25% of graduating cohorts), with a large share navigating the secondary job market. Survey data from program directors suggest approximately one-third of graduates do not aspire to academic careers. This paper illustrates realities of academic employment for recent graduates and includes recommendations for programs.
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Although the United States remains the leading host country for international students in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) fields, the global competition for talent has intensified. A record number of STEM graduates-both U.S. residents and foreign nationals- are entering the U.S. labor market, and there is a renewed focus on creating additional immigration pathways for foreign professional workers in STEM fields. Current law sets an annual worldwide level of 140,000 employment-based admissions, which includes the spouses and children in addition to the principal (i.e., qualifying) aliens. "STEM visa" is shorthand for an expedited immigration avenue that enables foreign nationals with graduate degrees in STEM fields to adjust to legal permanent resident (LPR) status without waiting in the queue of numerically limited LPR visas. The fundamental policy question is should the United States create additional pathways for STEM graduates to remain in the United States permanently? The number of full-time graduate students in science, engineering, and health fields who were foreign students (largely on F-1 nonimmigrant visas) grew from 91,150 in 1990 to 148,923 in 2009, with most of the increase occurring after 1999. Despite the rise in foreign student enrollment, the percentage of STEM graduate students with temporary visas in 2009 (32.7%) was comparable to 1990 (31.1%). Graduate enrollments in engineering fields have exhibited the most growth of the STEM fields in recent years. About 40,000 graduate degrees were awarded to foreign STEM students in 2009, with 10,000 of those going to Ph.D. recipients. After completing their studies, foreign students on F-1 visas are permitted to participate in employment known as Optional Practical Training (OPT), which is temporary employment that is directly related to an F-1 student's major area of study. Generally, a foreign student may work up to 12 months in OPT status. In 2008, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) expanded the OPT work period to 29 months for F-1 students in STEM fields. Many F-1 visa holders (especially those who are engaged in OPT) often change their immigration status to become professional specialty workers (H-1B). Most H-1B beneficiaries are typically admitted to work in STEM occupations. In FY2010, the most recent year for which detailed data on H-1B beneficiaries (i.e., workers renewing their visas as well as newly arriving workers) are available, almost 91,000 H-1B workers were employed in computerrelated occupations, and they made up 47% of all H-1B beneficiaries that year. The H-1B visa and the OPT often provide the link for foreign students to become employment- based LPRs. In total, foreign nationals reporting STEM occupations made up 44% of all of the 676,642 LPRs who were employment-based principal immigrants during the decade of FY2000- FY2009. Of all of the LPRs reporting STEM occupations (297,668) over this decade, 52% entered as professional and skilled workers. STEM graduates seeking LPR status are likely to wait in line to obtain LPR status. Those immigrating as professional and skilled workers face wait times of many years, but those who meet the criteria of the extraordinary ability or advanced degrees preference categories have a much shorter wait. STEM visas have gained interest in the 112th Congress, and various bills with STEM visa provisions (H.R. 399, H.R. 2161, H.R. 3146, H.R. 5893, H.R. 6412, S. 1965, S. 1986, S. 3185, S. 3192, and S. 3217) have been introduced. The House Committee on the Judiciary held two hearings on STEM and other high-skilled immigration in 2011. These issues also arose during a 2011 Senate Committee on the Judiciary hearing on the economic rationale for immigration reform. On September 20, 2012, the STEM Jobs Act of 2012 (H.R. 6429) failed to receive the necessary two thirds vote to pass under suspension of the rules. Most recently, the House passed a revised version of the STEM Jobs Act of 2012 (H.R. 6429) on November 30, 2012. Congress has renewed its interest in facilitatingthe immigration of foreign professional workers in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) fields. The STEM workforce is seen by many as a catalyst of U.S. global economic competitiveness and is likewise considered a key element of the legislative options aimed at stimulating economic growth.1 "STEM visa" is a shorthand for an expedited immigration avenue that enables foreign nationals with graduate degrees in STEM fields to adjust their immigration status to legal permanent residence (LPR) without waiting in the queue of numerically-limited LPR visas.2 The fundamental policy question is: should the United States create additional pathways for STEM graduates to remain in the United States permanently? Or, are current avenues adequate? The answer to the question lies at the nexus of education policy, labor force needs, and immigration priorities. More precisely, the key elements are: the source countries of international STEM students; the hiring choices of U.S. employers; and, the statutory limits and priorities of U.S. immigration law. This report opens by presenting a statistical portrait of foreign nationals studying STEM fields in U.S. institutions. An analysis of the current avenues foreign nationals with STEM degrees use to work in the United States temporarily and permanently follows. Discussions of the legislative history, current legislation, and major issues of debate conclude the report.
Conference Paper
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The U.S. government doubled NIH appropriations between 1998 and 2003, aiming to foster research activities in biomedicine. However, several indicators demonstrate that the impact of the increase fell short of expectations and triggered unintended negative effects. Compared to pre-doubling conditions, researchers now spend more time writing grant proposals, leaving less time for research. Paradoxically, the probability with which a grant proposal is accepted for funding deteriorated sharply after the doubling. The average age of first-time NIH grant recipients has increased by almost a decade since the early 70’s, while the percentage of biomedical doctorates securing tenured positions drops. These trends represent a threat to the quality and stability of the U.S. biomedical research workforce. Using system dynamics, we test the hypothesis that a sudden and temporary increase in research funds can result in unintended long-term effects hampering research discoveries and workforce development. A simulation model is developed using the available literature and calibrated to replicate historical trends. The model is then used to perform experiments that test the effects of changes in certain parameters or policies. The outcomes of these experiments provide policy insights that can help improve the effectiveness of NIH funding and its impact on the workforce.
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What happens within the university-based research enterprise when a federal funding agency abruptly changes research grant funding levels, up or down? We use simple difference equation models to show that an apparently modest increase or decrease in funding levels can have dramatic effects on researchers, graduate students, postdocs, and the overall research enterprise. The amplified effect is due to grants lasting for an extended period, thereby requiring the majority of funds available in one year to pay for grants awarded in previous years. We demonstrate the effect in various ways, using National Institutes of Health data for two situations: the historical doubling of research funding from 1998 to 2003 and the possible effects of "sequestration" in January 2013. We posit human responses to such sharp movements in funding levels and offer suggestions for amelioration.
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We model the set of tenure-track faculty members at a university as a queue, where "customers" in queue are faculty members in active careers. Arrivals to the queue are usually young, untenured assistant professors, and departures from the queue are primarily those who do not pass a promotion or tenure hurdle and those who retire. There are other less-often-used ways to enter and leave the queue. Our focus is on system effects of the elimination of mandatory retirement age. In particular, we are concerned with estimating the number of assistant professor slots that annually are no longer available because of the elimination of mandatory retirement. We start with steady-state assumptions that require use of Little's Law of Queueing, and we progress to a transient model using system dynamics. We apply these simple models using available data from our home university, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
A conceptualisation of higher education (HE) in the UK from a systemic perspective is introduced and discussed briefly. This conceptualisation suggests system levels and stakeholder sets for each level. Design approaches to systems design (design of design systems) are noted briefly as possible alternatives to systems engineering in addressing the problem field. Questions are then raised that the various groups of stakeholders might wish to debate about design of HE in the UK. These questions have political connotations. Some examples of system descriptions are suggested as preliminary hypotheses for answering these questions and some empirical evidence for the validity of the descriptions is offered.Systemic interactions within HE in the UK influencing potential solutions to some of its problems are discussed in terms of effectiveness and efficiency rather than ideology. The ramifications of some of these problems are explored; the argument returns to the need to resolve ideological issues before solutions to the problems can be attempted. The paper hopes to open debate, to stimulate development of some of the ideas presented and to initiate research collaborations. Copyright © 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Working with groups unfamiliar with system dynamics, modelers need a quick way to introduce the iconography of the approach and some of its framing assumptions. In the early exploratory days of group model building interventions at the University at Albany, we settled on the use of sequences of tiny models for this purpose, which we call "concept" models. The intent is to begin with a sequence of simulatable pictures so simple and self-explanatory, in the domain and language of the group's problem, that the group is quickly and naturally drawn into the system dynamics approach. Previous papers have sketched in passing the notion of concept models as we have used them. Here we provide a number of illustrative examples and describe in detail the ways we use these little models, the assumptions behind them, some design principles that have matured over time as our experience has grown, and a discussion of possible problems with the approach. Background Working with groups unfamiliar with system dynamics, modelers need a quick way to introduce the iconography of the approach and some of its framing assumptions. In the early exploratory days of group model building interventions at the University at Albany, we settled on the use of sequences of tiny models for this purpose, which we call "concept models." The term reflects the conceptual nature of these little models in two senses. The models introduce concepts, iconography, and points of view of the system dynamics approach. In addition, the models are designed to try to approach the group's own concepts of its problem in its systemic context.
The US government has been increasingly supporting postdoctoral training in biomedical sciences to develop the domestic research workforce. However, current trends suggest that mostly international researchers benefit from the funding, many of whom might leave the USA after training. In this paper, we describe a model used to analyse the flow of national versus international researchers into and out of postdoctoral training. We calibrate our model in the case of the USA and successfully replicate the data. We use the model to conduct simulation-based analyses of effects of different policies on the diversity of postdoctoral researchers. Our model shows that capping the duration of postdoctoral careers, a policy proposed previously, favours international postdoctoral researchers. The analysis suggests that the leverage point to help the growth of domestic research workforce is in the pregraduate education area, and many policies implemented at the postgraduate level have minimal or unintended effects on diversity.
The age-distribution in a population is more or less variable. Its possible fluctuations are not, however, unlimited. Certain age-distributions will practically never occur; and even if we were by arbitrary interference to impress some extremely unusual form upon the age-distribution of an isolated population, in time the “irregularities” would no doubt become smoothed over. It seems therefore that there must be a limiting “stable” type about which the actual distribution varies, and towards which it tends to return if through any agency disturbed therefrom. It was shown on a former occasion1 how to calculate the “fixed” age-distribution, which, if once established, will (under constant conditions) maintain itself.