As more and more universities around the world graduate ever-increasing numbers of students with PhDs, governments are beginning to ask if it is time to slow the production line. A new study notes that China is the world leader in producing PhDs, having outnumbered the United States on a per year basis for the first time in 2008.
By then, the Asian giant had awarded more than 240,000 doctorates over only the previous 30 years after its PhD programmes were stopped during the Cultural Revolution. These did not restart until 1978 when a mere 18 students were undertaking doctorates – but since then PhD enrolment has expanded by 24% a year.
But according to the study’s author, Dr Les Rymer, the number of qualified professors needed to supervise China’s doctoral programmes has not kept pace, raising fears that quantity is not being matched by quality.