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Canada: Trends in inbound and outbound mobility

Statistics Canada and Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, under the auspices of the Canadian Ministry of Industry, have released their newest publication titled Expectations and Labour Market Outcomes of Doctoral Graduates from Canadian Universities. The current report relies on graduate survey data from two sources: the Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED), which collected data from individuals at the point of graduation  (in 2005), and the National Graduates Survey, which interviewed a representative sample of graduates two years after degree completion (in 2007).

The report highlights recent mobility trends of Canadian PhD students and offers a fascinating look at developments in this area. For example, it showed that 21% of the 2005 doctoral graduates intended to leave Canada upon completion of their degree, while the 2007 data found that the actual outward mobility of these graduates was even higher, reaching 27% of the entire sample. Yet, the Canadian Ministry of Education doesn’t see these outward mobility trends as cause for concern. Instead, it views these phemonena as a form of ‘brain circulation’—or ‘brain chain’—whereby graduates continue their postdoctoral work abroad in an attempt to stay in tune with current and future innovation elsewhere.  In the process, an argument can be made that Canada accrues real benefits by virtue of the ongoing connections the graduates maintain with the Canadian business, scientific and intellectual communities.

On the flip side, the findings about the outbound mobility of Canada’s PhDs may strengthen the relevance of a number of initiatives created by the country’s Ministry of  Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism to increase inward mobility. The 2010 preliminary figures from this ministry signal that Canada is making inroads in its efforts to attract qualified, skilled foreign workers—including foreign students. The latest findings show that Canada processed approximately 96 147 new foreign student entries from 2 December 2009 to 1 December 2010, marking a 40% increase over 2005 figures.

Statistics Canada

Ministry of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism