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CAUT Bulletin Archives

November 2003

Government Cutbacks Cause PhD Exodus

Canada is experiencing a flight of newly-minted PhDs, a pilot study undertaken by Statistics Canada has found.

A large number of doctoral graduates from the University of Toronto and the Université de Montréal are leaving the country for employment or PhD study or research in the United States, a country with an already high number of expatriate Canadians.

"Intellectual migration from Canada is continuing because the federal and provincial governments aren't investing enough money in university renewal," said Andrea Rounce, chair of the National Graduate Caucus of the Canadian Federation of Students.

Rounce, a graduate political science student at Carleton University, said opportunities are limited as universities are replacing tenure stream positions with low-paying, short-term contract positions.

"Today, graduates obtaining academic placement have no security," Rounce said. "It's temporary work, they're poorly paid, they're overworked, research facilities are inadequate and they can't develop as professionals." And she says the only solution is for governments to take action to improve things for the academic community.

The Survey of Earned Doctorates, sent to about 800 PhD graduates from the two universities, measured graduates' post-secondary academic paths, funding sources, fields of study and immediate post-graduate plans.

The analysis of post-graduate plans showed that nearly 30 per cent of respondents were leaving the country. Most found work in the U.S., while 11 per cent were pursuing opportunities in another country.

The pilot study was conducted by Statistics Canada from November 2002 to June 2003. The response rate from the two participating universities was 62.4 per cent.

Statistics Canada will collect data next year from more than 40 institutions granting doctorates throughout Canada.