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The majority of academics in the US received their training at a select few prestigious institutions.

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A study1 found that US colleges frequently hire tenure-track professors from a select group of elite universities.. The evidence indicates that status is overvalued in recruiting decisions and that academic researchers have few options to secure posts at institutions that are more exclusive than the ones where they received their training.

In particular, the analysis, which was published in Nature on September 21 (see “Hiring bias”), demonstrates that between 2011 and 2020, just 20% of PhD-granting universities in the United States contributed 80% of tenure-track faculty members to institutions across the nation. According to Hunter Wapman, a computer scientist at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder) and a co-author of the study,

The 20% did not include historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) or institutions serving Hispanics. There were only five elite colleges that graduated: the University of California, Berkeley; Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts; the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor; Stanford University in California; and the University of Wisconsin–Madison. one out of every eight tenure-track academics with US training

Leslie Gonzales, a social scientist at Michigan State University in East Lansing who specialises in higher education, says that while these statistics are not shocking, they are startling nonetheless.She claims that it is being disregarded since HBCUs and HSIs, among other locations, are producing “so much wonderful work” and “training of exceptional academics.”

Evaluating superiority

295,089 people from more than 350 organisations who held tenure-track and tenured professor jobs at US colleges that offer PhDs made up the data set for the Nature study. 2011 and 2020Through the Academic Analytics Research Center in Charlotte, North Carolina, Larremore and the team have access to the data.. Larremore, Wapman, and their associates sorted the data set’s faculty members into 107 categories, including chemistry and ecology.

According to the research, just 5-23% of faculty members worked at a prominent university other than the one where they received their PhD.Pharmacology and animal science had the highest rates of “upward mobility,” whereas economics and classics had the lowest percentages.

According to Kimberly Griffin, dean of the College of Education at the University of Maryland in College Park, hiring committees ostensibly use prestige as a proxy for superior qualifications. performance on the job.Although top graduate programmes usually admit students based on their performance on standardised examinations, “prestige” does not always correlate to “better-qualified.”

The quality of their reference letters, and the standing of their undergraduate degree. Research demonstrates that each of these factors might disadvantage students of colour, according to Griffin, who is also the editor of the Journal of Diversity in Higher Education.


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