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.