Almost every university president or chancellor, in the U.S., sent an email to everyone affiliated with his university or college about the current economic crisis that is affecting every aspect of life here in the United States. Financially, things are going very bad and it is going to be worse next year. States are cutting funds from their public universities. This means that these universities have to find a way to survive.
There is a very good article entitled “College Credit Crunch 101” in the Time magazine [issue 12/22/2008] that explains some of the difficulties that some universities are facing. It seems one common measurement that some universities (including mine) are taking to survive is to freeze faculty-hiring and salaries (Harvard and many others). The uncommon one is taken by Wisconsin’s Beloit College to lay off nearly a tenth of its staff — including all non-tenured faculties.
One of the departments in my university sent an email to its graduate students informing them that their already assigned TA positions are under review and reconsideration. That is, they may cut the student’s fund while he/she is a graduate student. Every international graduate student knows that without a TA or an RA position it is almost impossible to continue. With this financial crisis things are going to be very difficult on graduate students.
PhdComic has a saying about this issue: