Report warns of brain drain as academics claim dissatisfaction with institutions

November 7, 2006

Brussels, 6 November 2006

A new report reveals the extent to which Scottish universities could be facing a brain drain of professors, lecturers and researchers who say they are planning to work elsewhere in the UK or abroad.

The official study of over 1,500 university staff found that only a quarter of academic staff in Scotland say that they want to stay in the country for their next job.

The report discovered that staff had a 'relatively high level of dissatisfaction' with their institutions and warned that Scotland could suffer from a 'net loss' of academics.

The total loss for Scotland could run into the thousands despite the Scottish Executive's long-term strategy of placing emphasis on the potential of the academic sector in a knowledge economy.

The report concluded that Scotland is an attractive destination for researchers from other parts of the UK and the world, but found difficulties in retaining them once they were in Scotland.

The researchers asked academics if they expected to leave their job soon. They found that a total of 78% of people recruited since 2000 said they would look to move on in the next few years. This group cited their major concern as getting a promotion internally. The report concluded that the evidence 'suggests there may be a relatively high level of dissatisfaction with their current institutions'.

The researchers then asked where academics expected to move to. Only 24.8% said they would remain in Scotland. A total of 48% said they expected to move to elsewhere in the UK. The rest said they would go abroad or leave higher education.

The brain drain phenomenon was most marked among professors. Only 20.7% said they would stay in Scotland for their next job. The figure for readers was 26.8%, for lecturers 29.5% and for researchers 23.3%.

The authors concluded: 'There is evidence to suggest that Scotland may see a net loss of research-orientated academic staff in the next few years, and given the potential size of this loss, there may be some cause for concern.'

CORDIS RTD-NEWS/© European Communities, 2006
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