11,000 academics quit UK in three years in “Brexit brain drain” - not too late to turn the tide if Liberal Democrats policies implemented

December 2, 2019 11:10 AM

Nick Cott on the campaign trailAlmost 11,000 EU academics have quit the UK in the three years since the Brexit vote, research by the Liberal Democrats has revealed.

The analysis, based on Freedom of Information responses from 81 universities, shows that 4,014 EU academics have left UK universities in 2018/19. This is a 31% increase on the 3,051 EU academics who quit in 2015/16, the academic year before the Brexit vote.

Some of the universities with the largest number of EU academics leaving since the Brexit vote include Oxford (1,515), Edinburgh (1,271) and Cambridge (1,292).

The Liberal Democrats said the figures reveal that uncertainty over freedom of movement and international research funding is leading to a "Brexit brain drain."

Academics face uncertainty over both their immigration status and their funding following Brexit, meaning the UK risks becoming less competitive in attracting global talent. Previous analysis by the Royal Society has shown that the UK's share of total EU research funding has already fallen from 15.8 per cent (€1.49bn) in 2015 to 11.3 per cent (€1.06bn) in 2018

The findings are also consistent with recent research by the higher education industry body Universities UK which reported that 60% of universities surveyed believed they had lost existing or potential staff members to overseas institutions because of Brexit.

Newcastle Liberal Democrats Education spokesperson Dr Nick Cott said:

"It is a deeply concerning that Brexit has already driven so many talented academics to abandon the UK.

"Our universities are being threatened by a Brexit brain drain, exacerbated by Boris Johnson's reckless promise to crash us out of the EU by 2020 no matter the cost.

"This is sadly not surprising given the Tory party has adopted the xenophobic rhetoric of Nigel Farage, making our colleagues, friends and family from the EU feel unwelcome.

"It's not too late to turn the tide and prevent Boris Johnson imposing his divisive Brexit plans on the country. The Liberal Democrats can still stop Boris, stop Brexit, and protect our world-leading higher education sector."

Source : 81 universities provided data in response to a Freedom of Information request from the Liberal Democrats.

Liberal Democrats plans on higher education

Liberal Democrats will protect our world-leading higher education sector by stopping Brexit, and will:
Raise standards in universities by strengthening the Office for Students, to make sure all students receive a high-quality education.
Require universities to make mental health services accessible to their students, and introduce a Student Mental Health Charter through legislation.
Reinstate maintenance grants for the poorest students, ensuring that living costs are not a barrier to disadvantaged young people studying at university.
Establish a review of higher education finance in the next parliament to consider any necessary reforms in the light of the latest evidence of the impact of the existing financing system on access, participation and quality, and make sure there are no more retrospective raising of rates or selling-off of loans to private companies.
Ensure that all universities work to widen participation by disadvantaged and underrepresented groups across the sector, prioritising their work with students in schools and colleges, and require every university to be transparent about selection criteria.