Mexico is implementing a measure to encourage national researchers who are working abroad to return to Mexico and prevent the country’s “brain drain”.
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The Program for the Retention and Return, sponsored by Mexico’s National Council of Science and Technology (Conacyt), has invested more than 440 million pesos (more than US $30 million) to encourage researchers working abroad to come back and join research teams for higher education institutions in Mexico.
The three universities ranking highest among return destinations for Mexican scientists are the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), with 49 returnees, followed by the Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon with 47, and the Distinguished Autonomous University of Puebla and Veracruz University, both having welcomed the return of 35 Mexican nationals each among their ranks.
However, it has become difficult for Mexico to retain its brain power. According to El Universal, only 540 specialists were able to return to Mexico in the last seven years.
“Due to the lack of opportunities in Mexico, thousands of scientists were forced to leave the country to seek a better professional future,” Conacyt statement said in a July statement.
According to a recent study by Mexico’s Science and Technology Consulting Forum, only 16 of every 10,000 residents reach postgraduate studies. Much of this may be due to lack of government incentive.
According to biochemical engineer Octavio Paredes, in the past, scientists in Mexico have not been able to convince the government to invest more in research. “Countries like Vietnam have invested 2 percent of their GDP in sciences, while Mexico has only invested 0.42 percent in research,” he told El Universal in an interview.
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Hopefully that will soon change. Conacyt received 109 applications for returning scholars, with 70 applications reviewed before the closing date of March 28, 2014.
“This situation is because of the new stringent requirements in notices for vacancies geared toward attracting higher quality applications for the benefit of returning scholars,” said Conacyt’s activity report for the months of January to March.