CIRGE Fellow discusses about mechanisms of retribution associated to international postgraduate fellowships


REDICEC – the Network of Chilean researchers in Canada- organized a webinar on mobility of knowledge and mechanisms of retribution at the end of September (see details here). As many emerging economies, Chile has developed an international program of postgraduate fellowships that funds masters, doctorate and postdoctorate fellowships in world class universities.
Roxana Chiappa, PhD candidate in higher education and one of the CIRGE research fellows, presented an analysis of the mechanisms of compensation associated with scholarships funded by Latin American governments.

Roxana, also from Chile, focuses on issues of science policy, doctorate education and internationalization of higher education. In her presentation at the webinar, the PhD (c) in Higher Education compared the compensation mechanisms associated with international postgraduate scholarships funded by the Chilean, Mexican and Brazilian governments. Roxana explains that scholarships for international graduate is a common mechanism used by governments to increase domestic scientific capacity of countries, and in most cases, nations have been more concerned of increasing the number of highly skilled people rather than preparing mechanisms to receive and recruit the fellows educated abroad.

Chile launched a program of fellowship in 2008, named Becas Chile, which has funded more than 5,000 scholarships to study masters and doctorates in the period 2008-2014. Roxana adds that evidence from other countries shows that Chile is not an isolated case. Economies that have recently expanded their higher education systems, such as Brazil, Mexico, Kazahjistan, appear to address a similar phenomenon. “These countries have funded a large number of fellowships in a very short period of time, aiming to improve their research performance, but they have paid much less attention on how to receive and retain their scholars educated abroad”, Roxana explains.

Mechanisms of Retribution

Chiappa comments that students and fellows funded by Becas Chile are mandated to go back to the country. Since there is uncertainty about the working conditions and public funding available to support individual career of researchers in Chile, networks of Chilean researchers living abroad are organizing forums and seminar to discuss the best mechanisms of retribution. “This explain partially why I was invited to give this talk in the seminar organized by REDICEC”, Roxana says.

In front of the question “what are the bests mechanisms of retribution associated to international fellowships”, Roxana is cautious and states that there is so much analysis to be done before launching proposals.

The CIRGE fellow explains that governments with less-industrialized economies finance international fellowships to study at world class universities, which are defined according to international university rankings. Most of the world class universities are located in industrialized economies, preferentially located in western English speaking countries. Simultaneously, less-industrialized countries are highly unequal in terms of income and soical opportunities, which is reflected in their educational systems, turning out that individuals who can compete for international fellowships funded by the government tend to come from upper-middle class families.

“This is the reality of Chile and many other countries. In the literature of international higher education, there is a vast body of evidence that shows that academic mobility is rooted in power assymetries among countries and unequal opportunities among societal groups. . Before suggesting any mechanism of retribution, I think we need to ask more fundamental question about what is the foundamental idea of of retribution, and most important, who pays the costs and who receives the benefits of each proposal of retribution. Once we have this diagnoses, we can evaluate the different options”, Roxana concludes.


See presentation here

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