Doctor, doctor … we’re suffering a glut of PhDs who can’t find academic jobs

Jonathan Wolff:

If you are taking a PhD, especially in the sciences, look away now. It may be stale news but I’ve just seen a graph from a 2010 Royal Society report suggesting that of every 200 people completing a PhD, only seven will get a permanent academic post. Only one will become a professor.

These figures may look too bad to be true, but who are we to question the Royal Society’s grasp of statistics? What, then, should we make of the calculation that so few people gaining PhDs in the sciences go on to academic careers?

Perhaps it is good news. Many will applaud the fact that there appears to be so much demand in this country for scientific researchers in the private, charity and government sectors.

The arts and humanities and the social sciences may be another matter. Other figures suggest that academic job prospects are a little better in these areas. Even so, the number of academic jobs each year in every subject is far fewer than the number of jobseekers.