Rewarding University Professors: A Performance Based Approach

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The labour market demand for highly skilled employees is increasing; universities need high-calibre professors to train them. But the demand for superior scholars is not being met in some fields, despite a buyer's market for available Canadian academic personnel.

Many universities are suffering "academic flight" as competition for the best brains develops between the ivory tower and the private sector, on the one hand, and Canada and the United States, on the other.

Budget constraints at most universities make it difficult to recruit and retain the best faculty, but it is the current remuneration framework that is largely responsible for the shortage of star performers. This is because (1) existing pay-, tenure-, sabbatical- and seniority policies do not link rewards to performance and (2) powerful faculty unions, timid administrations, government indifference, and a pervasive egalitarian mind-set penalize excellence and prevent reform.

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