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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Editorial: Investing in the future

Published: October 16, 2009
Section: Front Page

This academic year has seen an increase in the number of graduate students on the Brandeis campus, even after Ph.D admissions in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences were cut in half for this year. Increasing enrollment in Master’s programs in the university’s graduate programs was part of a plan intended to raise the number of tuition paying graduate students and make a slight dent in our budget shortfall. Cutting Ph.D admissions was intended to reduce costs by halving the number of stipends paid to students.

Certainly, the success of efforts to enroll more tuition paying graduate students is heartening. Not only does it prove that the university can successfully follow through with a plan to increase revenue, it also demonstrates that not all cost saving or revenue generating changes are disastrous.

Master’s students are great and they no doubt contribute to the academic rigor and reputation of Brandeis, but they must not replace Ph.D students. A research university depends on the presence of a robust community of doctoral candidates.

Doctoral candidates are vital for professors and undergraduate students alike. They work in laboratories, lead discussion sections and recitations, as well as offer a link between undergraduate students and faculty. And above all, their research reinvigorates the life of the mind at Brandeis.

The university should maintain its effort to recruit tuition-paying Master’s students as a way to fortify our tuition base, but we will lose if we only think of graduate students as cash cows.

As we build up our Master’s student enrollment, we should return our Ph.D student enrollment to its pre-budget shortfall levels as soon as fiscally possible. Though they may not offer an immediate return, doctoral candidates represent a sound long-term investment.