Observers have predicted a brain drain of researchers from the UK in the aftermath of the vote to leave the European Union as rival countries snap up academic talent.
Jonathan Adams, chief scientist at the consultancy Digital Science, said that the Leave vote was a “real concern” and would strengthen the appeal of universities in places such as Singapore and South Korea.
It will put off “people here who feel alienated by the attitude to internationalism in their own country”, he said.
In addition, scientists from abroad would be deterred from coming to the UK by “anti-foreigner” sentiment.
Daniel Hook, managing director, said: “This puts Germany in an amazing position to capitalise on the UK’s exit.”
He said that universities should be particularly concerned about the Brexit vote’s impact on the decisions of doctoral and postdoctoral researchers, rather than more senior academics settled in a particular place.
Stephen Curry, professor of structural biology at Imperial College London, said that his EU colleagues were feeling “increasingly unwelcome”, and one had said that he would leave the UK in the event of a Brexit vote.
“There are plenty of good places to go,” he said, mentioning South Korea and other European countries.
The vote would also have “a clear and immediate impact on recruiting people from abroad” and there would be a “rapid drop-off” in hiring academics from overseas.
He added that he had little confidence that any new government would put in place a “sophisticated immigration policy” that would allow continued recruitment.
Sarah Main, executive director of the Campaign for Science and Engineering, said that it was “technically possible” for a new government to craft an “outward-looking migration policy” post-Brexit.
However, “the big challenge is that globally the perception is that the UK has chosen…an anti-immigration” stance, she added.
Meanwhile, on Twitter, some researchers mulled leaving the UK after the vote.
David Colquhoun, a pharmacology professor at University College London, said: “seriously thinking about leaving the sinking ship of Little England. Mortified.”
Mike Savage, head of the sociology department at the London School of Economics, said: “Got a job offer from a continental European university just now. That was quick!”
David Price, vice-provost (research) at UCL, said that the vote was “likely to be a disaster for the long-term future for UK research and HE sector”.
The reaction from Simon Wessely, president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, was: “one way flight to Zurich please”.