berezin at MCMAIL.CIS.MCMASTER.CA
Thu Nov 16 14:51:08 EST 1995
What is the MAIN EVIL of the American/Canadian
Graduate Student system ?
The following is a copy of comments from the graduate
student from India (now in N. American university).
My additional comments are below.
I read an article forwarded by you, regarding
funding to grad students etc.
In India, at the Indian Institute of Science as
well as the Indian Institute of Technologies, this is
how funding is done:
Admission to these places is very tough and is based
on an entrance exam (for eg. to get into the Masters
program I wrote a 6 hour entrance exam!) and usually
for the PhD programs there is also an interview.
So only the top students get in there and it is not
"admission-for-all". Once a student gets in there,
everything is taken care of: a monthly stipend,
ridiculously low tuition fees, heavily subsidised food
within the campus, hostels within the campus, so much
so that after one spends for all this, we still have
money left over from the stipend to save!
And when a student gets in, they have the choice of
which professor to join under: in other words, the
stipend is directly to them and not to the professors.
After being in this too-good-to-be-true place
for 5 years, its difficult to get used to the funding
situation in North America!
All the above advantages are unimplementable in
the present American/Canadian system. And the main
reason is clear from the above G-student's letter:
"... stipend goes directly to them and not to the
professors..... (and): ... students have choice
of what professor to join ... " (meaning to
work WITH a professor X, not "FOR professor X", as
people used to say here : small [ but implicative ! ]
difference in adjectives).
Why did it happen that in America G-students (and
Postdocs) are almost unexceptionally paid THROUGH the
specific professor (and hence slaveowners attitudes
on the part of the latter are encouraged to
I don't pretend to give an exhaustive answer how
this effect came into being at first place, but
suggest that one reason may be that it is a leftover
of pre-Lincolnian mentality, which after been defeated
in social and political sphere, somehow (curiously)
survived in Academia (!) and is presently endorsed
and cemented by the entire NSF/NIH/NSERC-plus funding
machinery of "proposal peer evaluations".
Interests of G-students (except as pegs) are not
natuarally accomodatable by such perverted system,
and only exceptionally good and fair professors
can make it bearable to their students.
Any other explanations/hypotheses ?
Alexander A. Berezin, PhD
Department of Engineering Physics
McMaster University, Hamilton,
Ontario, Canada, L8S 4L7
tel. (905) 525-9140 ext. 24546
e-mail: BEREZIN at MCMASTER.CA
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