Mi­grant aca­demics earn less but pro­duce more than US peers

THE (Times Higher Education) - - CONTENTS - [email protected]­ere­d­u­ca­tion.com

For­eign-born re­searchers in the US pro­duce more jour­nal ar­ti­cles, con­fer­ence pa­pers and patents on av­er­age than their Amer­i­can peers but are still paid less, a study has found.

To as­sess whether for­eign univer­sity staff mem­bers are more pro­duc­tive than those from the US, aca­demics at Ohio State Univer­sity and two Chilean in­sti­tu­tions – the Pon­tif­i­cal Catholic Univer­sity of Chile and Univer­si­dad Mayor – ex­am­ined the out­puts and em­ploy­ment records of those who re­ceived PhDs from US uni­ver­si­ties be­tween

1995 and 2003.

They con­cluded that for­eign­born re­searchers “out­per­form their do­mes­tic coun­ter­parts in…mea­sures of knowl­edge pro­duc­tion”, ac­cord­ing to the study, ti­tled “Are ­for­eign‑born re­searchers more in­no­va­tive? Self‑se­lec­tion and the pro­duc­tion of knowl­edge among PhD re­cip­i­ents in the USA” and pub­lished in the Jour­nal of Geo­graph­i­cal Sys­tems.

How­ever, for­eign-born aca­demics are paid about $3,000 (£2,368) a year less – about 5 per cent less – than US schol­ars, and are about 50 per cent less likely to have ten­ure, the study says.

When the re­sults were con­trolled to re­flect aca­demic dis­ci­plines (­for­eign-born aca­demics are more likely to take a PhD in a sci­ence sub­ject) and the pres­tige of the univer­sity they at­tended, higher pro­duc­tiv­ity among for­eign-born staff was still ev­i­dent, the paper says.

On av­er­age, for­eign-born staff pub­lished 20 per cent more jour­nal ar­ti­cles, pre­sented 12 per cent more pa­pers, and had 45 per cent more patent ap­pli­ca­tions and 74 per cent more patents granted than their “oth­er­wise equal do­mes­tic coun­ter­parts over a five-year pe­riod”, the paper says.

The study – au­thored by Ro­drigo Perez-Silva, Mark Par­tridge and William Fos­ter – also ap­pears to de­bunk the the­ory that lev­els of higher pro­duc­tiv­ity might re­late to the in­ten­tion of gain­ing US ­ci­ti­zen­ship.

In fact, for­eign-born aca­demics with US ci­ti­zen­ship were the “most pro­duc­tive”, while non-US cit­i­zens with per­ma­nent res­i­dence were also “highly pro­duc­tive”.

In the case of for­eign-born aca­demics out­per­form­ing US schol­ars who at­tended sim­i­lar uni­ver­si­ties, the study sug­gests that their higher pro­duc­tiv­ity lev­els are not ex­plained by these staff be­ing brighter or bet­ter trained.

In­stead, the au­thors sug­gest that the “self-se­lec­tion” of for­eign-born re­searchers may ex­plain the ­dif­fer­ence.

As over­seas grad­u­ate stu­dents are likely to in­cur higher costs than Amer­i­can stu­dents when study­ing at a US univer­sity, those with lower ap­ti­tude and mo­ti­va­tion are less likely to fol­low this route – mean­ing that those who do are more likely to be a “bet­ter fit” for the PhD course than US ap­pli­cants. In turn, they will “have, on av­er­age, a greater ap­ti­tude for schol­arly pro­duc­tiv­ity” and be “bet­ter matched” in the aca­demic labour mar­ket af­ter grad­u­at­ing, the paper says.

“Given that train­ing re­ceived is un­likely to dif­fer be­tween for­eign and do­mes­tic PhD re­cip­i­ents (with all of them at­tend­ing US uni­ver­si­ties), the self- se­lec­tion of the ­for­eign­born would ex­plain a sig­nif­i­cant share of the pro­duc­tiv­ity dif­fer­ences,” the paper con­cludes.

As for­eign-born PhD re­cip­i­ents are more pro­duc­tive, poli­cies ori­ented to “at­tract and re­tain for­eign­born re­searchers” should be pro­moted, the paper rec­om­mends, say­ing that the study’s re­sults sup­port the use of “merit-based” im­mi­gra­tion poli­cies in or­der to en­hance in­no­va­tion.

“Lim­it­ing [the in­flow of for­eign PhD stu­dents] could slow sci­ence cre­ation in the short run, and more im­por­tantly harm the coun­try’s com­pet­i­tive­ness in the long run,” it adds.

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