Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Brain Drain and Brain Gain, Redux

I have received the following comments on my brain drain post from Jorge A. Perez, a Colombian student who just started his PhD studies at the University of Bologna under the supervision of Davide Sangiorgi, one of the Italian TCS researchers who made it back home safely. I am happy to post Jorge's comments, as they indicate that Italian CS is moving in the right direction.

I've read your recent post with interest, as I make part of the minority that has chosen Italy as a place to do a PhD. I am a Colombian, and have recently joined the CS department at Bologna,
under a new scheme for admitting (and reserving scholarships) for foreigner students.

Two specific comments on the post:

- It is certainly surprising to observe that Italy and Colombia share this "runaway brains" problem. This, of course, occurs because of very different reasons. Naturally, the surprise behind all this is that Italy is a G8 country and Colombia is a third-world country that spends most of its money on military expenses.

- Recently, there has been an increasing offer of PhD positions in CS for foreigners. Indeed, a number of CS departments (e.g., Bologna, Pisa, Verona, Trento) now admit foreign applications, usually based on CV and recommendation letters. This seems to be the right direction in order to compete with other European countries. Moreover, this initiative could be imitated in several other fields.

I have to say that even with the problems Italy has in some aspects of doing research, at Colombia Italy is seen as a very attractive option to do a PhD in CS. The possibility of working with strong researchers is an incredible advantage that, in several ways, compensates some
things that could be considered as drawbacks.

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