Does the Organization Have Staff Who Deal Specifically with the Special Needs of Non-US or Foreign National Postdocs?
Most respondents (70 percent) answered yes; only 8 percent answered no, and 8 percent reported that the needs of non-US postdocs were handled by the adviser.
Most of the “other” responses indicated a pattern of offering postdocs the same access to international services as students and other scholars.
If Offered, in What Areas Do Foreign National Postdocs Receive Assistance?
Virtually all respondents (97 percent) assisted foreign nationals with visa issues, and more than half offered assistance with tax issues, housing, and English language studies. Smaller numbers reported assisting with Social Security questions (43 percent), driver's licenses (11 percent), and credit references (11 percent).
Several institutions offered help with household furnishings and support groups for spouses and dependents.
COSEUP Survey Results
One of the postdoc's most common complaints is a feeling of isolation and the lack of a peer group through which to communicate with the institution. Postdoctoral associations can fill both needs, helping to build community and improve communication. Because postdocs are a transient population, these associations need institutional support to survive. An institution that encourages a postdoctoral association signals to postdoctoral candidates that their concerns are taken seriously.
These new associations (one of the first was founded at Johns Hopkins in 1992) sometimes begin with the indispensable step of counting the number of postdocs at an institution, as was the case at the University of California at San Francisco (see Box, Postdoctoral Associations). The UCSF Postdoctoral Scholars Association, formed in 1995, has worked with the university to formalize a grievance process, bring postdoc representatives to committees that set postdoctoral policy, establish an annual orientation for postdocs, and offer access to group health insurance.
Postdocs working in industry settings have also formed productive associations. At Eli Lilly & Co., for example, three postdoctoral fellows form the Postdoctoral Scientist Council, which “...serves to enhance the scientific and social experience of postdocs at Lilly. ” The council has organized a research forum for postdocs, arranged on-and off-site social gatherings, suggested seminar speakers to address issues of interest to postdocs (e.g., how industry recruits for senior