Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Ready to Return?

Here's the latest hype from Rutgers:

Indian Graduates in U.S. are Ready to Return to India: Faculty shortages at Indian universities could be eased.

The study is based on a survey of nearly 1000 Indian students and post-docs in the US. Let me highlight a couple of points:

  1. Survey respondents' attraction towards India is driven by lofty-softy factors like family, giving back to the motherland, help build India's higher ed, and comfort with society/culture. On the other hand, the factors behind keeping folks away from India are hard-nosed things that have a lot to do with job-related conditions: corruption, red tape, academic work environment, research funding, earning potential. [see page 16] Wonder which set of factors are likely to win?

  2. While the report frames the issue as one of faculty shortage in India, (see the recommendations at the end of the report), the survey includes a large number of masters students (interestingly, their fraction in the study is actually less than their actual fraction among Indian students in the US). All said and done, doctoral programs account for less than a sixth of Indian students in the US [see these NSF documents] -- out of some 67,000 grad students, I would estimate less than 10,000 in the doctoral programs (because only about 1300 PhDs were awarded to Indians annually during 2004-2007).

Needless to say, I'm not happy with the framing; nor with the methodology. Like I said, there's just too much hype ...

Indian students in the US deserve a better study!


  1. Ankur Kulkarni said...

    I didn't read the report, just the article. The first line is surprising:

    "India needs to recruit at least one million new faculty members for its college and universities if it is to meet the government’s goal of making higher education available to 20 percent of young people by 2020."

    One million?! Does any one know if this is correct?

  2. Ankur Kulkarni said...

    Upon reading the report, I found they had emailed the students asking for participation in their survey. I suspect that students more keen on returning to India would be more likely to participate in a survey on higher ed prospects in India.

  3. Ungrateful Alive said...

    In terms of completed recruitment of USA-based PhDs with decent to good vitae into IIXs, my informed impression is that the peak rate was approximately 2000--2005 and has been going down since. There have been a couple of high-profile departures as well since 2005. As for this study, we can afford to ignore it.

  4. Anonymous said...

    A quote from the article:

    The remainder are either planning to return to India (preferably after some work experience abroad), or are undecided.

    I have been a member of an online community whose members are Indian researchers in the US planning to move to India. Funny thing is that many of them said that they want to move to India after some experience, but now they are busy filing tenure dossiers. I also know several friends who say that one day, when they have enough experience and money, they will move to India. Again, rarely happens.

    So yes, WebMiner is right; the study can safely be ignored.

  5. Unknown said...

    Yeah, this study looks iffy at best. For me, as an Indian doctoral student in the US, the biggest incentive to head back to India would be a proper funding source for my research (which is sort of available I suppose provided you have the fortunate combination of being a good proposal writer and make yourself and your science known in the correct networks). From what I've seen with some Indian students here, their mind has already been made up (in staying or heading back) before they've even arrived here. Incentives are required for the largely undecided group IMO.

  6. Lekhni said...

    It has always been fashionable to say you intend to return, whether or not you are serious about it.

    Also, for Masters students, the "intention" is possibly a little stronger now because jobs are harder to come by in the recession. That might change in a year or two.