The Wall St. Journal reports that while U.S. universities are suffering from hiring freezes and shrinking budgets, schools in Asia and the Mideast are eager to recruit the holders of U.S. doctorates. For example, Frederick “Fritz” Monsma, earned his Ph.D. in philosophy from Boston College in 2003. After applying for countless positions without success, he received an offer from the American University in Iraq-Sulaimani. “I stopped looking elsewhere,” says Mr. Monsma. “I knew it was going to be an adventure, both in life and pedagogy.”
Even in more promising economic times, many new Ph.D.s, particularly those in the humanities, experience difficulty landing jobs. “The supply-demand ratio is as bit out of whack” explains Jack Schuster, a professor emeritus at Claremont Graduate University in California and an expert on the academic labor market. In this kind of economy, he adds, “things are very, very tough.”
According to the Modern Language Association, hiring in English and foreign language departments fell more than 20% this year at U.S. universities. Similarly, job postings of the American Political Science Association were down by 14%.
Although teaching abroad offers new opportunities, there are some risks associated with it as well. In addition to limiting networking possibilities, an overseas job could harm academics’ job prospects when they seek to return to the U.S.
“From the U.S. vantage point,” says John Curtis of the American Association of University Professors, “there is that element of difference, newness and uncertainty about how universities operate abroad.”