Ways to attract local talent in academia

I am delighted to know that thought has been given to developing local talent for academia ("Growing the local core in academia"; Sept 4). Indeed, more can be done.

In looking to attract mid-careerists into academia, it is vital to consider the opportunity costs involved.

Efforts to attract mid-careerists into academia should go beyond the offering of PhD scholarships.

I have heard of cases where working adults were offered scholarships, but declined the offer after taking family finances into consideration. These people demonstrated potential in research, producing reputable publications, but, at the same time, are already married with children. After taking into account the monthly PhD stipend and the pay cut they must bear, they figured that they would not be able to financially support their families.

As much as they wish to pursue their dreams, many have families and mouths to feed. Thus, PhD studies should be made financially attractive.

Beyond the promotion of academia as a fulfilling and exciting career, hiring practices should be reviewed as well.

We stand to lose local talent if getting tenured at local universities becomes a Herculean task, despite being placed on the tenure track. Lecturers on the tenure track may leave for foreign universities if those institutions offer them tenure instead.

At the end of the day, human beings want confidence as far as job security is concerned.

It would be good to see more local talent in academia. Let us all work towards it.

Woo Jia Qian (Miss)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 12, 2015, with the headline 'Ways to attract local talent in academia'. Print Edition | Subscribe