As you may agree that most departments of most US university will have a number of Indian postdocs. But why very few Indian professors leave India to join US universities. I wonder why?

  • "Every department of every US university": citation needed.
    – aeismail
    Commented May 17, 2015 at 19:25
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    Edited to make statement defensible.
    – jakebeal
    Commented May 17, 2015 at 19:31
  • @Aron Perhaps you may want to state your field? I know quite a couple of computer science professors in the US with Indian roots, comparable to the number of postdocs with Indian roots that I know. Is your question based on your personal perception, or can you back it up with some data that shows the imbalance?
    – DCTLib
    Commented May 17, 2015 at 19:33
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    Are you specifically asking why people who already have faculty positions in India rarely leave them to take faculty positions in the US? This may be not so much anything to do with India or the US, as simply the fact that people who have permanent faculty positions anywhere tend to not leave them. Commented May 17, 2015 at 19:38
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    @Aron I think in order to get meaningful answers, you should tell us why you would expect them to move in the first place. For better or for worse, most people that leave their home country do so because they see better opportunities elsewhere. Once people have a professor position in their own country, the urge to start somewhere else more or less fresh is almost by definition not super-large.
    – xLeitix
    Commented May 17, 2015 at 21:50

2 Answers 2


I think the answer is likely to be much the same reason that you see many postdocs shifting between the US and Europe, but few faculty changing shifting between the US and Europe as well. Postdocs are in a transient period of their career and will readily move to follow opportunity. Faculty, especially once tenured, are likely to be settled and not particularly interested in moving, no matter where they started.

Now, India is still different than the US academically, but as India continues to develop and Indian academia continues to expand, the difference is decreasing and one should expect the flow of scientific talent to continue to become more balanced, as is happening already.

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    It's also important to note that in the US most universities prefer to hire at the assistant professor level rather than at the associate or full professor level. Even if someone at a higher level of experience were willing to accept an assistant professor position, it's likely in practice that they would not be hired. Thus it can be very difficult to make a lateral move to a position in the US as an associate or full professor. Things open up again somewhat for top researchers at the full professor level, but that's a very small part of the market. Commented May 18, 2015 at 4:05

In addition to jakebeal's answer, I would like to add some points of my own. India is a developing country with not much money to spend on funding. Thus only a handful research institutes can support good quality research and education. Talented students who don't find enough resources in India go to abroad to pursue their endeavours. The people who remain in the country are the ones' having a 'sense of patriotism' and are here to serve the country. Hence, they refrain from leaving.

You will find most of the Nobel laureates and Turning award winners from India being non-residing Indians.

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