Foreign hiring angers qualified Canadians
By Sarvenaz Kermanshahi
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
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.”