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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 January 30 - February 5  > JCP holds symposium on job shortage for PhD. holders
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2008 January 30 - February 5 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

JCP holds symposium on job shortage for PhD. holders

February 3 & 4, 2008
In a situation in which the number of doctoral degree holders facing difficulties in finding stable employment is sharply increasing, the Japanese Communist Party on February 2 held a public symposium in Tokyo to deal with job shortages and poor working conditions for young researchers.

About 100 university teachers, short-term contract researchers called postdoctoral fellows (“post-docs”), part-time lecturers, and graduate students actively took part in the discussion.

Participants reported on young researchers’ severe living conditions; Some said that researchers with doctorate degrees have debts of 10 million yen in student loans, that the number of graduate students unable to pay their tuition fees has doubled, and that undergraduate students are losing interest in obtaining higher degrees.

Panelists made proposals to overcome the problems.

Non-profit Organization Science Communication Japan President Enoki Eisuke said, “The average age of ‘post-docs’ is getting higher. One out of 10 is now older than 40 years. Many ‘post-docs’ are not enrolled in a pension plan. It is necessary to find solutions by rallying the support of the wider society.”

Okada Yasumasa, former chief researcher of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, said, “With the government’s comprehensive plan for science and technology implemented, while competitive grant funds are increasing, it has become difficult to continue ordinary studies because of a decline in subsidies for operating costs. This plan has created the problem of the use and abuse of young researchers. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology needs to be aware of the actual situation.”

Physical Society of Japan Career Support Center Head Bando Masako pointed out that one third of researchers hold unstable positions like “post-docs”. “Personnel cuts in the field of basic research are underway. I will call for a renaissance in learning by promoting improvement not only in applied research but also in basic studies,” she said.

Yoshida Yutaka, professor at Hitotsubashi University Graduate School of Social Sciences said, “As a result of increases in the number of graduate students due to government policies as well as the incorporation of national universities, graduate school teachers have become extremely busy. At the same time, living conditions of graduate students have deteriorated due to higher tuition fees. It has become very difficult to train junior researchers. Gaps among universities are also rapidly widening. The government must drastically change its education policy.”

JCP Vice Chair Ishii Ikuko explained that since the reorganization of national universities as corporations, these universities have slashed about 50 billion yen in personnel costs which is equivalent to the starting salary of 10,000 teaching assistants under the old system and that they reduced the number of teaching assistants and assistant professors, while increasing the number of part-time lecturers.

“The government has brought market mechanisms into academic study in line with its “structural reform” policy. In addition, it has further deteriorated the situation by reducing research funds and promoting reliance on competitive grant funds. The JCP demands that the government conduct a fact-finding survey on the situation of ‘post-docs’ and part-time lecturers. The JCP will work hard to fundamentally redress the government policy.”
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