There Outta Be A Law Against All the Waste in Doctoral Programs: France legislates 6 year maximum for doctorat

In France in, in June 2016, the government has stepped in to limit the time to degree, among other changes.  La Confédération des Jeunes Chercheurs (CJC) or the association of young researchers complained about the legislation although it may have contributed to the legislation’s development.  The CJC wanted the PhD recognized as a course in professional development in the legislation which seems to consider the degree more of an academic achievement.

Do we need legislation like this?

If grad studies departments had some performance measures to go by society and grad students would be better served.  Certainly time limits and less attrition would result in enormous savings for students and governments.  Moreover such legislation would likely result in doctoral programs taking a more hands-on approach.  Suddenly the program might have to confront the sloppiness in its pedagogy.  Do we really need comprehensive exams?  How can we get more students through faster?  Do we send clear messages to help students understand our expectations?  What are our expectations beyond producing a dissertation?  Could we possibly allow students to collaborate on research to aid speed?  What would our former students suggest?

What factors went into the decision to legislate time to degree in France?  Saving money supporting students for longer than is necessary?  Will ‘quality’ now suffer or improve in France because grad school administrators need to comply with the law?  If a student of doctoral studies is reading this blog, that’s a good research topic.  I wonder how much the directors of doctoral programs contributed to the legislation.  What would Canadian deans and VP Academics say if legislation made them more accountable for times to completion?

How about attrition?  Does the legislation touch on attrition?  What would happen if doctoral programs had to produce doctorates in five years with 10% attrition rates?

We’d save so much time and money.  Some of the pomposity of graduate studies would be punctured.  Programs would improve.  Students would feel supported and the pressure to perform would be greater.  But first, major pushback from universities could be expected.

What would happen to that pool of cheap labor to teach those undergraduate courses?  Maybe they’d just move into the adjunct underbelly in every university sooner.