Costs of inflation are making nearly half of the world’s graduate students consider ending their program – Fortune | CarTailz

Inflation has made life difficult for everyone, and students are no exception.

In many countries, including the US, the prices of food, housing and fuel have risen faster than wages. Annual inflation in the US is 8.2%, while it is even higher in the eurozone and the UK at 10.7% and 13.2% respectively.

But inflation can be worse for graduate students, who have protested for years at inadequate annual stipends, often below minimum wage. And many are being forced to reconsider their choices and possibly abandon their planned careers because of rising expenses and mounting mental health problems, a new study finds.

Nearly nine in 10 PhD students worldwide are struggling to reconcile rising prices with their academic work, with 45% saying higher living costs could force them to drop out altogether, according to a survey conducted and published by Nature last week.

Nature Collected responses from 3,253 volunteers worldwide, all enrolled in Masters or Ph.D. programs. programs. Over a third of respondents were from Europe, 28% from North America, 24% from Asia, and the remaining 13% were evenly distributed across South America, Africa, and Australasia.

The study, which included anonymous testimony from students, shows graduate students struggle with expenses, insufficient scholarships, family responsibilities and mental health issues, and many are forced to take on extra jobs to make ends meet.

“I wish I had known how poorly my university had responded to rapid inflation and a cost of living that exceeded graduate and professional student salaries,” said a graduate student in the US Nature.

Lean Scholarships

Doctoral students have been under excessive financial pressure for years. Many master’s students pay their tuition either out of pocket or through loans, while graduate students in the US typically receive a scholarship from their university in exchange for working as a researcher or teaching assistant.

Graduate scholarships in the US average $41,170 per year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but this can vary significantly depending on the number of hours worked, school, and research area, with salaries ranging from as little as $20,000 to $30,000 per year.

And for many of these students, inflation is quickly eating away at those meager wages.

A sophomore at Boston University told Nature that her $40,000 annual stipend leaves her “close to poverty” in the face of the rising cost of living in the city; and that over 60% of her stipend went to pay rent.

She is not alone. The cost of living was cited as the top concern for graduate students, regardless of country, with 57% of respondents citing it as their most difficult challenge. The lack of affordable housing was another major concern, cited by 43% of PhD students as a reason for their concern.

“Money is a very big issue. I either have to share my space with strangers or I really think carefully about what I can afford to eat,” says a Ph.D. Narrated by student in UK Nature.

“Graduation grants really need to be raised to reasonable levels. It’s hard to feel valued as a researcher when I’m worried about paying for car repairs or getting groceries off the food bank,” said a US graduate student.

Inflation comes for students

In North America, 76% of respondents said the “total cost of living” was one of the most challenging aspects of earning their degree.

Financial concerns, combined with the mental health issues cited by a third of respondents, have meant graduation satisfaction rates have since declined Nature‘s latest student survey.

According to the survey, only 62% of graduate students said they were satisfied with their program, with rising costs of living and mental health globally cited as key factors. That’s a steep drop from last time Nature surveyed graduate students in 2019, when 71% said they were satisfied, even though only Ph.D. Students were questioned.

Declining student satisfaction and rising costs are forcing more and more students to give up their academic careers. Slightly more than half of the master’s students surveyed stated that they did not want to do a doctorate. Post-graduation program, with the associated high cost of living cited as a major factor for many.

With nearly nine in 10 students citing the high cost of living as their top concern, most urged schools to provide higher grants and better safety nets for their graduate students, while respondents in countries known for fully subsidizing education costs, such as Sweden, said so , spoke highly of their institutions.

“A PhD is a full-time job and should be treated as such. One of the reasons I chose a northern country in Europe was so that I could get a job and be well paid for something I love and which is extremely important to society. I wouldn’t do research in a country where universities and institutions don’t have such a system,” said a PhD student based in Sweden Nature.

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