May 20, 2004  
Volume 98, Issue 01  

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NEWS

Foreign hiring angers qualified Canadians

By Sarvenaz Kermanshahi
Gazette Staff

Canadian university teachers and academics are fuming over what they call discriminatory hiring policies at some of the country’s best institutions of learning.

In recent weeks, top academic posts have been handed over to non-Canadian applicants at both Queens University and the University of British Colombia, leaving many qualified Canadian applicants out in the cold.

“We get calls from people claiming they were unfairly considered,” said Jim Turk, executive director of the Canadian Association of University Teachers.

According to Turk, the hiring of an American for a music faculty position at UBC was a direct example of a cross-country trend. “The who’s who of Canadian [music] composing applied. They were all deemed unqualified,” he said.

He explained that while Canadian post-secondary institutions are allowed to advertise job vacancies to Canadian and international applicants simultaneously, they are obligated by law to accept international applicants only if they cannot find a qualified Canadian to take the position.

“The fact that universities are ignoring federal policy is a real worry particularly because we are moving into a time when lots of jobs are available,” Turk stated.

Approximately 30 per cent of current faculty at Western were hired out-of-country, explained vice-provost Alan Weedon. “We try to hire the highest quality faculty we can.”

Weedon attributed the foreign hiring trend to a shortage of Canadians in doctorate programs. “We have an insufficient number of Canadian graduates. This is well documented,” he said.

But according to James Grier, a professor of music history at Western, the trend is very discouraging for Canadian students. “Why would anyone go to grad school to seek a doctoral level degree knowing they would not be able to compete for jobs in Canada?”

Grier was one of several qualified Canadian academics who applied for a musicology position at McGill University. He and the other applicants were denied when the post was given to a non-Canadian.

“In one instance at a very prominent Canadian institution, two applicants — one Canadian and one American — with degrees from the same American institution applied for a position. The Canadian never got an interview; the American was hired.

“My issue is that they do not necessarily bring in better people, Grier said. “There is an implication here: if you want excellence, go outside Canada.”

 

 

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