PAULINE JEWETT

Who’s being hired to teach in our universities? Foreigners, mostly. We used to be short of qualified Canadians. Now we’re turning out many more of them; but we don’t give them jobs

March 1 1969

PAULINE JEWETT

Who’s being hired to teach in our universities? Foreigners, mostly. We used to be short of qualified Canadians. Now we’re turning out many more of them; but we don’t give them jobs

March 1 1969

PAULINE JEWETT

Who’s being hired to teach in our universities? Foreigners, mostly. We used to be short of qualified Canadians. Now we’re turning out many more of them; but we don’t give them jobs

THERE IS NO DOUBT that as Canadians we have benefited greatly, in material terms, from the influx of non-Canadians onto our university staffs in the 1960s. We have got them “free,” so to speak, not having had to spend a cent on their preparation and training. A marvelous coup for us.

We have benefited in other ways, too. The non-Canadians we have been able to attract have frequently been first-class scholars in their fields. They have brought with them knowledge, skills and methods that have rivaled and enriched our own. Furthermore, they have come from all over the world, adding a cosmopolitan flavor to almost every campus in the country.

In recent years, though, the emphasis seems to have shifted to sheer numbers of non-Canadians. Our universities have reached the point where close to three quarters of their new recruits each year are non-Canadians. (The proportion has gone up from approximately 45 percent in 1961-63 to 58 percent in 1963-65 to 72 percent

in 1965-67, with the figures for 196769 not yet available but probably even higher.) Furthermore, increasing numbers each year are drawn not from many lands but from just one — the United States.

The explanation usually given for this ever-increasing reliance on outsiders, particularly on Americans, to staff and run our universities, is that the supply of qualified Canadians simply hasn’t kept pace with the demand. The supply of qualified Americans, on the other hand — or, at any rate, that part of the supply available to us — has grown very rapidly. The comment is usually added that in time, when more Canadians have gone through graduate school, the balance will be righted.

I, for one, have generally accepted this explanation. In fact, I have frequently inveighed against the shortsightedness of our governments in not providing adequate financial assistance to universities and students for graduate work, in failing to give sufficient encouragement to the development of our own university teachers.

Recently, however, two professors of English literature at Carleton University, James Steele and R. D. M. Mathews, have taken the pains to assemble a few statistics on the subject — something no one had thought of doing before. These statistics show that though the supply of qualified Canadians has not grown as rapidly as it would have with greater governmental assistance, it has nevertheless grown substantially in recent years. Indeed, it has grown much more than has the use that has been made of it by Canadian universities.

Between 1963-65 and 1965-67, Steele and Mathews estimate, the number of Canadians taking higher degrees (MAs and PhDs), in Canada and abroad, rose from 9,785 to 14,151 — a sizable increase in the pool of Canadian talent. Between the same two periods the additional faculty taken on by Canadian universities rose from 3,040 to 4,716. This was a larger increase, proportionately, than the increase in the pool of Canadian talent — governments, please note — but not markedly so. One might have expected that at least in the last year (1966-67) a fair number of this additional faculty would have been Canadian.

Yet this was so far from being the case as to be ludicrous. The increase in the number of Canadians taken on by our universities in 1965-67 was exactly 36. The figures show 1,284 Canadians recruited in 1963-65, 1,320 in 1965-67 — a growth rate of three percent. The non-Canadians recruited, on the other hand, went up from 1,756

in 1963-65 to 3,396 in 1965-67 — a growth rate of 93 percent.

Of course, not all Canadians taking higher degrees (MAs particularly), in the two periods, were potential university teachers. Nor were the potential university teachers among them always as well distributed in the various disciplines as the university situation demanded. When all allowances have been made, however, the fact remains that the supply of qualified Canadians has increased substantially in recent years and that our universities have taken practically no advantage of it.

It might be argued that our universities haven’t known about this Canadian potential (much of it being snapped up by other institutions and by universities elsewhere). Certainly they have had no system for keeping themselves informed of the activities and aspirations of Canadian graduate students or teachers, either at home or abroad. Neither have they had any techniques for acquainting such Canadians with university openings — by advertising regularly in a Canadian newspaper or journal, for example. They have relied almost exclusively on the word-of-mouth approach which, in an age of rapid university expansion, has been practically useless.

Surely, though, it is essential for our universities to find out about the potential and to do so efficiently. They have shown no hesitation in finding out about the British or, more recently, the American potential. On the contrary, through advertising, recruiting expeditions, attending academic “auctions” and other means, they have kept themselves quite well informed about qualified non-Canadians.

Why, then, have they kept themselves so ill - informed about Canadians? Can it be that they simply haven’t wanted to recruit them? There has always been a tendency in Canadian life toward a kind of intellectual colonialism, a reluctance to use one’s own talents if other talents are available. For a long while our universities looked to Britain. Have they now simply shifted to the States? Only in much greater numbers since the American market is so near, so large, so efficient, so open and so interested?

In short, have our universities taken little advantage of Canadian talent because they have been indifferent to Canadians? Because they have had a decided preference for others? Chilling, if true. It means that the number of Canadians doing graduate work at home and abroad, in the future, may well be irrelevant. They simply won’t be hired. Not by Canadian universities anyway. □