Of late, I have noted, among a subset of scientists, a disposition that the quality of the PhD candidate and/or PhD training declined.
Of course, this is based on purely subjective measures – usually centered on the degree of independence and engagement.
I posit that there is, always has been, and always will be a distribution in these areas, and that perceptions of decline are either: (a) just that, perceptions colored by general negative feelings about the academic system today, or (b) a result of the increased volume of PhD candidates and recipients (i.e. the raw numbers have increased, but the distribution remains the same).
But maybe I’m just an optimist …
What say you?