So obvious… yet so necessary for these things to be reminded 🙂
Not long ago, there was a selection process in two Japanese universities. Both of them wanted researchers, preferably from Spain, and both of them decided to post the vacancy online. One of them was asking for a cover letter, CV and 3 letters of recommendation sent by email. The other university was asking for CV, cover letter, 2 recommendation letters, samples of published papers, a short video introduction of less than 20 minutes in Spanish, and copies of titles. Yes, it was a bit more complicated in the second one but… what if I told you that you were supposed to send all those things PRINTED, AND BY MAIL to Japan? 😀 Would you still apply to the second place???
It’s not a hypothetical example… you can check the latest offers for Spanish Studies and quickly identify that Japanese university. The video had to be sent recorded in a CD or in a USB stick and none of the materials would be returned. So, this means that if I choose option A, I have to send a fast email… and if I choose option B, I have to record myself for 20 minutes, go to the print shop to get those 87 pages of all the paperwork, then I have to go to buy one of those big envelopes with bubbles, then go to the post office and pay for the expenses of sending all that stuff to the other side of the world… just for the possibility of being included in the selection process. Ano na! Watashi wa baka ja arimasen! 😮 As you probably guessed, I applied to the first option (and got one of the two vacancies available for that summer project).
I am not saying the guys who recorded, printed and sent all that stuff are less qualified than others… My point is that the first university could choose between many qualified applicants, and the second one could only choose from those who were not discouraged by all the demanding requirements, expenses and time-consuming activities associated with the job offer. If the applicants were lottery tickets… statistically speaking, it’s easier for the first university to find the winning one for its project. The second university would only accept tickets ending in 7, bought on Tuesdays, sold exclusively by a guy named Sebastian or Wilfred and the tickets would have to be delivered to them by a former member of The Beatles riding a unicorn. Those useless and self-imposed difficulties only play against an institution’s chances of success, in a world where there are other universities, other countries, and where talent (in all its forms and shapes) tends to resent bureaucracy and arbitrary hurdles… 🙁
Wouldn’t it be great if universities worldwide had to compete for national and international budgets depending on their academic results? You would see how quickly they would go from: “Requirements: Meh! native or near-native proficiency in Spanish is enough” to: “Requirements: TOTAL proficiency… better than natives with PhDs in the field… better than Cervantes himself… Spanish and you must be one indiscernible concept”. In that way, if you choose a guy who (suspiciously) studied at your Japanese university and lives near the faculty, I would be able to say: “No hard feelings… BUT now your department will have to compete for the budget against the department from the university that decided to hire ME 🙂 Let’s see who gets the best research and teaching results… May the best team win!” 😀 Sounds fair, right? 😉