We don't want your postdoc fellowships - Macleans.ca

We don’t want your postdoc fellowships

New Banting Fellowships are elitist, says CAUT


The Canadian Association of University Teachers has come out against new federally funded post-doctoral fellowships, arguing they are elitist. The Banting Postdoctoral Fellowships, formally announced earlier this month, will see the government invest $45 million over five years to award 70 fellowships a year, at $70,000 a year for two years.

Because the program will only benefit a  fraction of Canada’s roughly 6,000 postdocs, the CAUT says the government has “misplaced priorities.” James Turk, CAUT’s executive director says the program will have a negligible impact on research output. “This program is another step toward the creation of a small elite tier of scholars in Canada , rather than a step toward increasing the capacity for research excellence of all our postdocs.”

The Banting Fellowships are, according to a government release, intended “to attract and retain in Canada the best researchers in the world.”

The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC) hailed the program when it was first announced, pointing out that the Banting Fellowships will complement other research programs such as the Vanier Scholarships and the Canadian Excellence Research Chairs. “Canada’s not just doing one thing. This is the latest in a series of sustained and complementary programs to attract more creative and innovative people,” said AUCC president Paul Davidson,

The CAUT believes the money would have been better spent on funding “a 4 to 4.5% wage increase for all postdocs in Canada.” According to a survey by the Canadian Association of Postdoctoral Scholars, the average postdoc earns a salary of between $35, 000 and $40,000 a year.


We don’t want your postdoc fellowships

  1. Elitist? It’s not elitist to reward the best. That’s the problem with the academic system. I get amazing results and put in 80 hour weeks, but make less than my colleagues who get an annual raise despite never contributing anything.

    Reward work and results. Enough with the “everyone wins a prize” approach to education. It’s why our students are so unqualified–let’s not make it why the professors are so unqualified.

  2. This CAUT people are clearly do-gooder idiots who have this very strange idea that for across-the-board mediocrity is a good thing. Don’t they see it: if you get the best in the world, they will create the best in the world. They have in their shallow thinking created a misplaced pairing of excellence and fairness–these are not the same domain. Some people are smarter than others, some universities are better than others, and that is that. Reward the best. This decision certainly does not represent the CAUT members that I know.

    Can you imagine the best universities in the world taking this attitude? They would no longer be the best. Simple as that. The best universities continually “head-hunt” for the best so that they can attract the best students as well as research money and other faculty.

  3. Sorry to say it, but not all research, let alone reseachers are equal. We badly need mechanisms to keep our best prospective talents in canada when there are so many high level opportunities in Europe and the States. This should certainly help the cause.

    What we need are for more of our best minds to stay in Canada and to view the pursuit of research as an economically viable option.
    This is not about encouraging more mediocre students to shoot for doctoral and post doc studies. It is about incentivising Canada as a place to perform ground breaking research in the future. We have more than enough quantitatively, we need to ensure continuing quality. The Bantings should help in that.

    As an aside, The Banting Fellowships are no more “elitist” than CIHR’s new investigator award or any of several other stipended awards. They are just trying to be inflammatory.