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Sunday, January 07, 2018

A Brexit brain drain

Sitting firmly in the category of something else the Brexiteers didn't tell us during the referendum campaign, today's Independent headline that more than 2,300 EU academics have resigned from British universities over the past year amid concerns over a “Brexodus” of top talent in higher education is a potential disaster for our higher education sector.

The paper says that new figures show a 19 per cent increase in departures of European staff from universities last year compared to before the EU referendum, and a 10 per cent rise from some 2130 resignations in 2015-16. This is despite the Prime Minister urging EU citizens to stay in the UK after Britain leaves the bloc. Prolonged uncertainty over post-Brexit rights has made some academics fearful for the future and they are voting with their feet:

[The news] comes after a report from the British Academy warned that the UK’s world-leading university sector could be under threat due to prospective changes to immigration rules after Brexit, with subjects such as modern languages and economics facing the greatest threat.

The institution reporting the highest number of resignations was the University of Oxford, which saw 230 departures of EU academics last year compared to 171 in 2014-15, according to freedom of information requests by the Liberal Democrats to 105 universities.

The paper adds that King’s College London also lost 139 members of EU staff, compared to 108 before the referendum, while 173 EU academics resigned from the University of Cambridge last year, up from 153 staff the previous year, and 141 in 2014-15.

As Liberal Democrat education spokeswoman Layla Moran says “This alarming rise in EU academics leaving our universities is the latest sign of a damaging Brexodus.

“Britain’s universities have thrived from having access to talented European researchers, and from years of European cooperation through schemes like Horizon 2020 and Erasmus.

“Now all this is being put at risk by this Government’s botched handling of Brexit, where we seem to be losing all the benefits of EU membership while keeping the costs.

“These valued members of our communities find themselves uncertain about the future and unconvinced by the too little too late wooing by an incompetent Prime Minister. While they were frozen out of the referendum, they are now voting with their feet.”
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