Confessions of a researchaholic

March 7, 2013

Being a prof in HK versus US

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 7:47 pm
Tags: ,

During my faculty job hunting I have interviewed with and got offers from schools in both US and Hong Kong. Below are my personal opinions about the tradeoffs.

Disclaimer: I have not worked as a professor in a US school. My opinions below are based on experiences as a Stanford grad student who has seen how top profs operate, a MSR researcher with frequent university collaborations, and a faculty candidate who has heard a lot during the interview trips.
People who have worked in both places could likely provide more accurate opinions. (Feel free to comment if you are one of these people.)

Q: How to choose between a top school in HK and a top school in the US

By default most people will pick the latter. But it is not that simple.

If you prefer to spend a lot of time getting money while having smart students doing most of the research, go to a top US school.
If you prefer to spend time doing hands-on research1 instead of writing grant proposals and you do not mind slightly less talented students2, go to a top HK school.

1I enjoy deep involvement in every project and student, and (sometimes) publishing single authored papers. I do not really find grant proposals very interesting.

2Most top students still want to go to the US, but there are always those who prefer to stay in Asia due to personal reasons. And they usually come to HK as it is the most westernized place in Asia with the best schools.

Q: How to choose between a top school in HK and a non-top school in the US?

Only go to a top university in a local maximum sense. This is how you attract the best of everything (funding, students, prestige, etc.). Due to financial issues (e.g. funding and student loan) and technology shifts (e.g. all these MOOC), I predict non-top US schools will have a much harder time in the future.
Contrast this with the rising Asia, and the fact that that they treat education very seriously.

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