Beginning next fall, Emory’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences will be admitting about 40 percent fewer students than it has in the past due to a 13 percent budget cut in student support funds.
According to Ulf Nilsson, communications manager at the Graduate School, the school tried reducing expenses in other areas but found that cutting costs in student support was still necessary.
“We have cut costs in other areas, such as staffing, but the graduate student support is by far the largest piece of our budget,” Nilsson said.
He said that the cuts in other departments yielded minimal results that did not reduce expenses enough.
Nilsson said the Graduate School does not have control over all of its expenditures. The cuts in expenses made in graduate departments were necessary because they were costs that could be controlled, he explained.
The Graduate School, like the eight other University divisions, must pay an allocated fee to the central administration, which then doles out funding to Universitywide operations such as the libraries, development initiatives and Campus Life.
“These are costs we can’t control,” Nilsson said. “The University both gives us money and takes it back to give to those other units. They control where the money goes.”
In the 2008-09 fiscal year, 40 percent of the Graduate School’s budget was derived from subsidies provided by the central administration. But this support plummeted because of significant declines in the revenues that supported these subsidies. While the University announced in February that the Graduate School will see a very modest increase in the overall budget, the increase is slight compared to past years.
Nilsson said the decline in central subsidy support was a significant cause in the 13 percent decrease in the student support budget.
Although going to graduate school is becoming imperative to getting a job, Nilsson said that the school has seen a consistent number of applicants from year to year, with no steep increases.
Even so, Nilsson said he suspects it will most likely be more difficult to get into graduate school this coming year and throughout the next couple of years.
He said that costs are being reduced at schools across the nation.
“It’s the kind of thing that’s very variable, and how it happens just depends a lot on funding structures,” Nilsson said. “In state schools, funding structures are driven by legislation and can change very quickly. In other institutions, funding structures are driven by three-year plans, which change slowly. We fall somewhere in the middle of that.”
In an e-mail to the Wheel
, Nilsson wrote that despite the reduction, the school is keeping a student funding structure that will support and attract the best students.
Nearly all graduate students at Emory are supported by scholarships and stipends, he wrote.
“When students are admitted to the Graduate School, we commit to funding them for up to five years (it varies some between different parts of the Graduate School), at a level that is competitive with our peer and competitor universities. That commitment is essential to maintaining excellence,” he wrote.
He added that some current students may be able to shift from Graduate School funding to research or training grant funding in their later years.
At that point, funds can be shifted to support incoming students, he wrote.
This year, the Graduate School funds approximately 950 student stipends. But next year, the school will fund 125 fewer, a decrease that mirrors the decrease in the student support budget.
According to Nilsson, the school will be keeping the specific stipend amount and health insurance subsidy stable. In order to maintain this commitment, Nilsson wrote, it is necessary to reduce the size of the incoming class. Last year, 363 students were accepted into the Graduate School. This year, he wrote, only approximately 220 will be admitted. Programs within the school will be accepting between 25 to 60 percent fewer students than last year, he wrote.
“The incoming cohort of students will be smaller than this year’s,” he wrote. “The funding per student will be unchanged. We will continue to offer robust opportunities for professional development support, including funding for conference presentations, special training and research activities.”
— Contact Alice Chen