Canada: Steady research talent influx

EducationWorld May 2019 | International News

New bespoke immigration assistance for academics considering a move to Canada will help to continue the steady influx of research talent into the country which began after the election of Donald Trump, says the head of Universities Canada.

Speaking to Times Higher Education, Paul Davidson, president of Universities Canada, which represents 96 higher education institutions, said plans to invest C$200 million (Rs.1,041 crore) in immigration services unveiled in the March federal government budget will consolidate his country’s reputation as a welcoming place for foreign academics. Under the plans, some C$78.6 million (Rs.409 crore) has been provided to improve the processing of Canadian work and study permits, as well as visitor visas, including the creation of a unit to handle applications from foreign researchers. “Having this kind of concierge service for academics and their spouses will certainly help them get through our immigration process more quickly,” says Davidson, who adds that the budget changes “are entirely symptomatic of a system that wants to show it is open for business,” to foreign researchers.

The budget plan is Canada’s latest initiative to attract top research talent to its universities. In March 2017, its government announced new funding worth C$117 million (Rs.609 crore) to recruit world-class professors from around the world under its Canada 150 Research Chairs programme, with the one-time funding scheme offering professors up to C$1 million (Rs.5.2 crore) per year, depending on their research.

Mike Mahon, president and vice chancellor at the University of Lethbridge, in Alberta, told THE that one US researcher recruited under the Canada 150 Research Chairs programme had left the US, citing President Trump’s election. “We recruited someone from the University of Texas who brought his entire research team with him — his computing needs actually doubled the computing capacity of the entire university,” he said, adding that he “absolutely came because of (Trump)”.

President Trump has also recently sought to impose fixed time limits on student visas — a move that many believe will see more international students head for Canada, where numbers have grown four-fold to 500,000 since 2000. That number could double to 1 million over the next decade, partly because of Canada’s generous post-study work visa arrangements.

(Excerpted and adapted from The Economist and Times Higher Education)

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