Anya Vaverko, a photojournalist who now lives in Nepal, all but ended her career as a UT graduate student last fall when she couldn’t find work as a teaching assistant.
When she learned her TA position would no longer be available, Vaverko called everyone in her college for a job. No luck. Departments outside the College of Communication — where she was studying photojournalism — “practically laughed” at her when she contacted them for a TA position, she said. They didn’t have enough jobs for their graduates, either.
After a long and unproductive search, she decided to move back to Nepal to pursue her career in journalism.
“At this point, I’m not sure if I will ever really get that degree,” she said.
Because of budget cuts effective in the 2010-11 biennium, many graduate students are facing the same situation.
Graduate Student Assembly President Manny Gonzalez said the scarcity of TA jobs is one of the most important items that GSA will address this year. TA salaries can no longer cover the cost of education, meaning graduate students have to take out loans. Decreasing the number of TA jobs can create further financial hurdles for grad students, he said.
Although the number of University-wide TA appointments has not yet been announced, about a third of UT’s academic departments increased student to teaching staff ratios from 2007-08 to 2008-09. But student enrollment over the same years actually decreased by 0.2 percent, according to the University’s Statistical Handbook.
Graduate students rely on these jobs, which can pay anywhere from $17,500 to $38,000 a year, to help them avoid large student loans when they graduate.