An article on reports that there might be a growing trend of American students dropping their plans for grad school. This is not a good sign particularly if they’re leaving the sciences and engineering fields.

But it looks like outsourcing American jobs are having this effect on students. For almost twenty years IT projects have been outsourced to top software development companies, top seo companies, and top web design companies in off-shoring destinations like India, Philippines, and China. Apparently, universities are now outsourcing the role of teaching assistants to home-based workers in India. This translates to stay at home moms grading college papers. Incidentally, this was exactly the kind of work that grad students applied for to cover a part or all of their tuition fees.

According to the article, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that college professors are outsourcing grading. The role of the TA has been a fundamental part of the graduate program, perhaps the doctoral degree in particular. It was good training to be a TA, and it was like paying your dues while you worked up the higher echelons of graduate school.

But it appears that the downturn in the economy has universities rethinking their strategies and the already underpaid TA is getting stiff competition from a well qualified stay at home mom or some other type of qualified home based worker.

Unfortunately, the options are not good for the future of grad students. They might have to take student loans on top of the fact that they might already have taken heavy loans for their undergraduate study. And yet the worst option is that students might actually not consider going to grad school if it’s too much hassle.

Educators are also implying that the state of the U.S. workforce could be in bad shape if students in science and engineering abandon their hopes for grad school. The aerospace industry is one sector that needs staff that are highly qualified in these subjects, says Tom Captain, Deloitte Vice Chairman.

According to a Congressional survey, International students obtained 20 percent of U.S. social science doctorates in 2002, while 35 percent graduated in physical sciences and almost 60% graduated in engineering.

With the new trend in outsourcing taking away the ubiquitous teaching assistant position from U.S. students, it is possible that American and foreign students might make different choices for their career.

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