19 October 2009

Engineering according to Bibi: vacuum vs brain drain

I was initially startled a bit by this headline:

PM wants 'vacuum to suck Israeli minds back'

But after reading the article, my anxiety settled down somewhat. After all, it's our PM speaking:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on the first day of the academic year that "we need to set up a vacuum here to suck up the Israeli minds located at top universities abroad.
So, as you see, it's really simple: we create a vacuum and the Israeli minds get sucked into it and thus come back home. Uhu... clear. But - how do we create this intriguing vacuum? Here it is:
He said US funds were "sucking up" the greatest minds, and that Israel should behave similarly in order to fight against the phenomenon.
So it's the issue of funds. This seems to be clear too. But wait, on the other hand:

Back to college: More students, less lecturers

This is about the lamentable state of our universities.
As expected, the university budget cuts have also led to more packed classrooms. Changes occurring over the past few years in the number of students on the one hand and the number of senior staff on the other, have lead to more students per senior staff member. Ten years ago the number of senior staff positions available stood at 4,684. Since then, this number has gradually declined and in now stands at 4,300 – an 8% drop.
Be interesting to know where these missing senior staff folks are? My uneducated guess will be - US of A. The good ole brain drain, you know.

So, by now you have also figured out the ingenious scheme Bibi is nurturing. One one hand, we'll create a local vacuum system to suck in the unsuspecting Israeli brains back. On the other hand, we already have in place a reverse mechanism that uses a similar (but better) vacuum system that exists in US to suck same brains back. Meaning that the name of the game is circulation.

Ingenious indeed. Although - wouldn't it be simpler and cheaper if... oh what the heck. It is not a good idea to argue with own government, after all.

Still, just to be helpful, a humble suggestion: wouldn't it be more efficient and cheaper if we use the brain vacuum that already exists in our government and the Knesset?