Florida International University Suspends the Hiring of Researchers From Six ‘Worrisome Countries’ Including Cuba

The Cuban Research Institute (CRI) could be one of the departments affected, according to the local press. (FIU)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Madrid, 25 December 2023 — Cuban researchers will not be able to work for Florida International University (FIU), which has decided to pause, immediately, the hiring of citizens of six countries considered “worrisome” by the government of that state, according to an email obtained by the WLRN radio station. Cuba is accompanied on the list by Venezuela, China, Russia, Syria, Iran and North Korea.

According to WLRN on Tuesday 19, Andrés Gil, Vice President of Research for the university and Dean of its graduate school wrote to the deans, department heads, directors of postgraduate programs and people involved in human resources that, due to the new laws announced in the state, it is necessary to “immediately pause any job offer or attempted hiring” that involves individuals from the “worrisome countries.”

Any offer that has been made and any active recruitment must be stopped until we have good control over the process

“Any offer that has been made and any active recruitment must be stopped until we have good control over the process, so that it is communicated properly to the candidates and is specifically indicated in our letters,” the text points out.

One of the affected departments, according to the local press, could be the Cuban Research Institute (CRI) of FIU, which works closely with Cuban – and Venezuelan – opponents for events, scholarships, programs, courses and all kinds of collaborations in which there may be vacancies if the situation is prolonged. “Unpaid research fellows” are also affected by the rule, a situation in which many Cubans find themselves. There are also a multitude of Chinese researchers hired during their postgraduate studies affected by this standard.

Governor Ron DeSantis has approved several rules that affect higher education during 2023. Among them, this rule has the objective of “combating those who try to infiltrate the American university system from countries of concern,” although there may be “exemptions” that must be examined on a case-by-case basis to move forward with hiring.

Gil, who fears that the measures will decapitalize the university, specifies in his email that the university is not the “final approval body” of the candidates, something that falls to the Board of Governors of the state, whose members are appointed by DeSantis as are other FIU positions in turn. “The process for each candidate will take several months, and we cannot guarantee any employment or position for individuals from countries of interest,” he adds.

“The directors of postgraduate programs and deans will receive instructions on what to communicate in relation to this process to newly admitted graduate students and/or others potentially interested in obtaining a postgraduate assistant. Human Resources and Academic Affairs will communicate to the deans and staff of Human Resources the impact for those employees who were currently in an incorporation process,” he says.

The media of the Sunshine State have not provided further clarification since they had access to FIU, which has been more restrained than the University of Florida (UF), in Gainesville, about the consequences of this measure.

More than 300 professors from the University of Florida have protested against a rule that, in their opinion, prevents them from recruiting the best students for the sole reason of their nationality, according to Science magazine.

Teachers made public a letter stating that this law “could negatively influence the long-term development, reputation and leadership of UF”

Teachers made a public letter stating that this law “could negatively influence the long-term development, reputation and leadership of UF.”

“Restricting or even preventing the hiring of postgraduate, postdoctoral assistants and visiting professors from these countries would have a devastating impact on our graduate programs and research activities; in addition, it could negatively influence the long-term development, reputation and leadership of UF,” they explain.

Although the United States Department of State was already investigating foreigners before granting them study or investigation visas, Florida’s state rule requires an allegedly more conscientious process.

The law was approved this summer along with another regulation that restricts the purchase of housing by foreigners from the same countries in areas close to critical infrastructures, such as airports, ports or power plants.

Translated by Regina Anavy

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