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SarahBell

Nationality Of University Researchers?

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I've just heard on R4 some bloke say that 90% of university researchers are foreign.

Doesn't bode well for UK students hoping to stay on and do PhDs if foreign governments realise the benefits of getting people through PhDs and encourage more to do them by more funding for them.

http://www.findaphd.com/funding/guides/phd-funding-guide.aspx

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I find it very difficult to understand why universities do this. It also applies to admin staff. People born here would be equally capable of doing the job, indeed better because they do not have difficulties with the language.

No doubt the taxes these people pay are proof that immigration works even though they are keeping a person born here out of work.

Edited by crashmonitor

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I've just heard on R4 some bloke say that 90% of university researchers are foreign.

Doesn't bode well for UK students hoping to stay on and do PhDs if foreign governments realise the benefits of getting people through PhDs and encourage more to do them by more funding for them.

http://www.findaphd.com/funding/guides/phd-funding-guide.aspx

Maybe that should be 50% of UK immigrants get in through the university back door ?

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Not that high in my experience in a particularly internationalised area of research. I suspect the claim applies to only a very select group in a particular field, or is inaccurate as a general indicator.

Plenty of Brits at foreign institutions too though.

Very high proportion in Nottingham University...quite a lot of Chinese Nationals too. However, as Nottingham University is the UKs biggest export to China (about the only export at that) I guess that is understandable.

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Young researchers are expected to work very long hours. Compared to other jobs, on an hourly pay basis, they don't pay well.

Perhaps only third world researchers with a job specific visa find these jobs worthwhile doing, as there's no other way they would be allowed access to the UK.

Edited by Si1

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Young researchers are expected to work very long hours. Compared to other jobs, on an hourly pay basis, they don't pay well.

Perhaps only third world researchers with a job specific visa find these jobs worthwhile doing, as there's no other way they would be allowed access to the UK.

That's a bit of an assumption, if they want to stay trust me they will find a way.

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for PhD researchers It will be because they are "self funded" - fees & expenses paid by their own government or wealthy family (which can be the same thing!). PostDoc research positions are poorly paid (relative to level of knowledge) So uk postdocs often change career e.g a biotech postdoc i know doubled his salary in 12 months by retrainng as an electrician. Some foreigh nationals are content with the low salary because a - they get to stay in the UK b - the job has a high status in terms of family pride, c - it opens up high staus & well paid occupations if/when they return to their home country.

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Very high percentage are in our Russel group university, particularly engineering. Many reasons, For EU national the relative openness of the UK institutions is an attraction, after all how many British people would even have a hope of getting a research job in an italian, spanish university etc. English is the language of science and all scientists have to learn it.

As to non-EU staff, they want to work in the UK to get a better life, surprise suprise. My objection is that, of course, it acts to suppress wages/status. The most telling conversations i have with Chinese, middle eastern, south american etc academics are about their own children. There is no way they would encourage them to do a low pay, long hours job like academia, they want they want them to be lawyers, doctors accountants etc. Academia is a good way to get a passport, but its a bad way to earn a living.

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At my ex university there were a great deal of Chinese PhD students by the time I left, almost none when I started. The department got taken over by a Chinese professor (I won't name the place or him, he's a good guy). The mechanism that gave rise to this imbalance appeared to me to be a combination of the University's financial benefit from these students, and his own links to Chinese institutions. This probably came at a cost to places for students of other nationalities in this case, but I'm entirely undecided as to whether it was good or bad.

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90% seems a little high but as the post graduate model moves towards self-funding it will only increase. My department has around 300 PhD students and more than 30 of them are British.

My office currently has 27 made up of:

1 x Iran

9 x British

7 x China

1 x Philippines

1 x France

1 x Thailand

1 x Israel

1 x Malaysia

2 x Turkey

1 x Spain

1 x Greece

1 x Germany

There is a noticeable increase in those coming from mainland china (the office next door has around 15 people and only 2 are not Chinese - neither of whom are British).

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for PhD researchers It will be because they are "self funded" - fees & expenses paid by their own government or wealthy family (which can be the same thing!). PostDoc research positions are poorly paid (relative to level of knowledge) So uk postdocs often change career e.g a biotech postdoc i know doubled his salary in 12 months by retrainng as an electrician. Some foreigh nationals are content with the low salary because a - they get to stay in the UK b - the job has a high status in terms of family pride, c - it opens up high staus & well paid occupations if/when they return to their home country.

This.

At my wife's work it is probably 70% foreign. However of permanent staff it is more than 50% British. Most other governments invest in their brightest young people and pay for them to acquire knowledge in the UK. Ultra capitalist places like Singapore and Hong Kong pay them to come here before guarantying paid work for state research groups afterwards. Meanwhile ours accumulate massive debt and leave science to be management consultants.

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and leave science to be management consultants.

Is that specific to your wife's field of research out of interest?

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I've just heard on R4 some bloke say that 90% of university researchers are foreign.

Doesn't bode well for UK students hoping to stay on and do PhDs if foreign governments realise the benefits of getting people through PhDs and encourage more to do them by more funding for them.

http://www.findaphd.com/funding/guides/phd-funding-guide.aspx

The UK government funds lots of (STEM) PhD places, which are reserved for UK citizens. So not sure its a problem in STEM. The real problem is post-PhD, when you have to compete with hundreds of foreign researchers for jobs. Going the other way is not so easy, as many european countries seem to have unofficial policies of not hiring foreigners into academic posts (probably mainly because they want someone fluent in their particular language) so then the people in those countries only compete with people within their own countries.

Edited by Saver

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At my office (admin of uni dept) we have been moving back towards more Brits, currently 9 out of 14. Was as low as 6 out of 14 3 years ago. We get better British born candidates these days - not sure why.

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From my experiences in the life sciences 90% is far too high; I would estimate at least 60% of non permanent staff were from the UK. Most of the foreigners brought in their own funding- other countries try to invest in their youth.


Agree that Universities in other European countries are not so keen to employ foreigners.

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Is that specific to your wife's field of research out of interest?

Not really specific to her area of science. I think it is more that they want people with Cambridge Phd qualifications so they can sell them on to clients at £1k a day (even if a lot of them know nothing about anything other than their very narrow area of expertise!)

Purely anecdotally from her place of work I'd say the majority of foreign PHd students continue to work in science (either here or back home) whilst the Brits drift away when they realise the starting salary at Deloittes exceeds the group leader position they might get in 10 years time if they are deemed to be producing world leading research.

One of the two best scientists she worked with is now working for a management consultancy in IT which is depressing really as he could have discovered something really important. In his case it was a money thing, he couldn't live the type of life (ridiculous dreams like a reasonable house) he wanted to on science money.

The other scientist is doing incredibly well as a group leader with a huge research budget but crucially his wife is a GP and his parents are very wealthy so money is not an issue.

I honestly reckon we are going back to the era where the only people who can afford to live and work in Cambridge/Oxford on the money science pays are those with independent means. In Cambridge the University is so concerned they are actually building an entire new suburb of subsidised housing so they can retain staff.

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Maybe people from other places are more likely to accept what they are given....more compliant and grateful for what they get, both in salary and benefits......depends on the job, some jobs are placed with someone in mind before the selection process........ ;)

Edited by winkie

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I actually was interviewed for doing a PhD at Cambridge but ended up abroad

It's the usual. There are huge amounts of chinese students paid for by the Chinese government, and loads of other non-western europeans working here.

Largely they sit in their office and write huge mounts of questionable papers and the Professor rakes in the accolades for . Look at the journals on IEEE, almost every issue is chock full of Chinese authors. One PhD student here wrote 20 papers in 3 years. Somehow I think if you just read 2 or 3 you've read them all. But he is the star man and wins loads of awards. A lot of the work done here by them is simulation and incremental at best, in my opinion. I think it looks bad on the university. This is just a reflection on university in general now. I think that all publications without experimental work should just be banned in some areas.

Its just another form of wage arbitage. Obviously there are a few good ones. But who wants to sit in a room for months on end basically being a slave.

The western europeans doing PhDs are probably either eccentrics or are terrible and only on the PhD because there is no other option and everyone goes to university now anyway.

Still when you see a publication written in the UK by English names who dont have their name on 10 other papers that year, you know it's usually worth reading.

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Still when you see a publication written in the UK by English names who dont have their name on 10 other papers that year, you know it's usually worth reading.

I've spoken to some academics who are beginning to reject the maximum publications, minimum publishable unit, etc approach; the sheer quantity of mediocrity is now unmanageable. There are a few anti academics, such as nasim taleb, who are promoting the Victorian amateur approach to research in its stead, but of course you can't apply that to big science which requires large numbers of bums on seats

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The national trade deficit, high debt levels and high house prices infer we are due a sterling devaluation in the coming years at some point (so sayeth Roger Bootle anyway), in which case in an international market in academics, relative wage levels for academics in the UK will talk commensurately

That will probably in turn favour UK academic staff over foreign staff

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I honestly reckon we are going back to the era where the only people who can afford to live and work in Cambridge/Oxford on the money science pays are those with independent means. In Cambridge the University is so concerned they are actually building an entire new suburb of subsidised housing so they can retain staff.

I'm in science and I'd agree, and it might be for the better of science quality 'right now', but I wouldn't argue it's for the better in terms of opportunity for all and perhaps 'getting in all ideas' in the long term.

One thing that scientists have missed out upon, or failed to make the point for, is appropriate funding for science. That is with the caveat that of the science budget too much goes currently upon salaries and too little upon doing science - but that is a consequence of the general unemployment crisis - or governments trying to hide it.

The arts brigade have, in contrast, done a sterling job at getting public funding for their projects.

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