Αρχική > πανεπιστήμιο > Top scientists advise recent graduates to seek work abroad and…

Top scientists advise recent graduates to seek work abroad and…

A leading astrophysicist and one of the team that produced Dolly the sheep say declining funding means science graduates should think globally

Students throw their mortarboards in the air after graduating

The best research opportunities for new graduates may be in countries like Singapore and the US. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Science graduates should scale back their hopes of finding work in the UK and cast their net wider, according to two of the UK’s most influential scientists.

Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Prof Keith Campbell said decreasing levels of funding for British research meant would-be scientists should think globally when hunting for employment.

The pair made their comments on Sunday at an Edinburgh International Book Festival debate on the future of science.

Campbell was among the team of Edinburgh-based scientists who produced Dolly, the world’s first cloned sheep, in 1996. Bell Burnell is credited with revolutionising astronomy when she discovered the first pulsar as a PhD student at Cambridge University. Asked what they would do if they had newly graduated this summer, neither said they would stay in the UK. "With funding at the moment, getting a job in biological sciences is very difficult. Getting a postdoctoral position is very difficult, and getting one that is well funded to do research is very difficult in this country," said Campbell. "At the moment I think the research opportunities are in other places because of the basic economics of this country."

Campbell said he continues to carry out research on sheep, but funding holds him back. The sheep he bought to create Dolly cost him £1.50 each in 1996, he said. The same sheep would now cost £100.

"If I have 50 sheep for six months with housing, it costs me £85,000 and that’s without staff," he added. "Research is not cheap. In Singapore not only can you do the research but you get paid a salary too. Being able to eat is quite useful."

"I’m not trying to put people off," he added. "You’ve got to love what you do and work 16 hours a day."

The science jobs market is tougher for women, said Bell Burnell, who has previously said she struggled to gain respect in a male-dominated field even after she had her ‘Eureka moment’.

"I think a spell abroad for anybody is incredibly useful. It gives you a great sense of perspective and you see other ways of doing things," she said.

"For a young woman you probably have to go abroad while you’re young and before you get attached to somebody and a family. Or, as I did, you go abroad about 50 when your family’s left home.

"I positively encourage time abroad to anybody. It’s worth taking the time to suss out which countries in the world are well funded for your subject and look for opportunities there."

Angela Saini, a science journalist and author of Geek Nation: How Indian Science is Taking Over the World, said graduates should "certainly not think locally".

"There are exciting opportunities all over the world. India and China may have a domestic demand at the moment but certainly Singapore and the US are good," she said. "We are globalised graduates now and I would certainly not think locally when thinking about getting a job. Just go anywhere you can to get research opportunities."


Graduates: A generation abandoned

Graduate unemployment is not only creating an economic black hole but a terrible human tragedy

Ros Coward, guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 19 July 2011

graduation ceremony

A recent poll has shown that a quarter of this year’s graduates will be returning home to live with their parents. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty

A poll reveals that of this year’s crop of graduates, 27% will be heading home to live with parents. Cue comments on the "boomerang generation", along with explanations that young people prefer free catering and laundry in the parental home to the challenge of independence.

What’s really surprising is there are not far more. Youth unemployment currently stands at 24%, more than three times the national average of 7.7%. Given the price of accommodation and the insecure, temporary nature of young people’s jobs, it’s more a case of who on earth could actually afford to move out.

The idea of the boomerang generation always provides plenty of fun. Just about everyone I know whose children are in this age group have one or two living at home. We grumble about dirty dishes and compete for the most outrageous story. I scored well this weekend, waking at 2am to hear what sounded like someone moving in. In the morning, I found this was indeed the case.

My living room contained an unexplained chaise longue, several suitcases and theatre props. Oh, and an unknown person too. Secretly we may feel pleased that being able to cope with all this marks us out as more tolerant than our own parents’ generation. And, we remind ourselves, in many European countries it’s the norm for children to live with their parents until getting married.

But most parents are worried – for their own offspring and for this generation as a whole. Among the flow of humanity passing through the parental "guesthouse" the real picture of this generation emerges. Some have applied, unsuccessfully, for hundreds of jobs, some have piecemeal or part-time work, several are taking MAs "to boost their chances" and a large number have "internships", as employers now call unpaid labour. Only a few have found jobs appropriate to their qualifications, while many are back in jobs they did before university.

Although there are reports of recent small increases in graduate opportunities, cuts in public funding and the euro crisis are both likely to have negative effects on the economy and employment. If the situation is bad here, it is dire elsewhere. In Spain, youth unemployment runs at a scary 44%. In Greece it is at 36%, in Portugal, 28%, and Ireland, 31.5%. There is a particularly worrying increase in the number of young people unemployed for over two years.

But this is not just about figures – it’s a human story. Ask the so-called boomerang generation and they’ll tell you they are desperate for independence. Some, unable to find employment, are depressed. Meet the individuals behind the figures, and the rhetoric of a "lost generation" acquires a human face. What must it feel like to apply for so many jobs, to face repeated rejection, to wonder if you can ever join the adult world? How can these individuals have the key experiences of growing up? Because having a job is not just about having money, it’s about developing a sense of your competence, about self-worth, about learning to work with colleagues, and the complexities of contemporary society. Without that chance to grow, we aren’t just looking at people who haven’t worked for a period. They will be actively damaged.

Such debate as has been had about young people and their opportunities has focused exclusively on increased student fees and university numbers. This looks like a serious distraction. However much universities improve on employability issues, it won’t magic up jobs where none exist.

Perhaps it’s in the government’s interests not to look too closely. If the two issues of student fees and youth unemployment are put together, the implications are deeply worrying for the Treasury. The budgetary implications of most universities adopting full fees (to be funded by government loans) and continued high demand for places, has begun to sink in. This will cost a lot of money. But in the context of escalating unemployment, the fact that no student will start paying back until they earn £21,000 makes this look critical. Many of this new debt-saddled generation will be unemployed for long periods. If they eventually get jobs, they will progress more slowly, taking longer to reach payback levels. This is an economic black hole with a terrible human cost.

Youth unemployment needs to be back in the centre of political debate before the boomerang generation becomes the throwaway generation.

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