Fears of ‘brain-drain’ as academics denounce Brexit in poll

9 Jan 17

The vast majority of academics believe Brexit will be bad for higher education in the UK and many will consider leaving the country, according to a poll, sparking fears of a national ‘brain-drain.’

A YouGov survey of 1,000 academics, carried out for the University and College Union, found that 90% agree that Brexit will have a negative impact. Almost half (44%) say they know colleagues who have already lost access to research funding as a direct result of last summer’s vote, and a similar proportion (42%) say they are more likely to consider leaving the UK, a figure which rises to 76% for non-UK EU academics. Almost a third (29%) of respondents said they already know of fellow academics who are leaving the country.

The survey also tested academic opinion on the government’s HE Bill, which proposes making it easier for new providers to award degrees and become universities.

It found a large majority (81%) of academics are concerned that the plans will have a negative effect. There is also widespread opposition to plans to link the Teaching Excellence Framework to tuition fee increases, with 76% saying it will have a negative effect.

The union is calling on the government to shelve the Bill, which is being debated in the House of Lords later today.

General secretary Sally Hunt said: “This survey gives a real insight into academics’ concerns about the government’s policy proposals and the fallout of the Brexit vote.

“I am deeply worried that so many academics already know of staff leaving as a result of the Brexit vote, and that three-quarters of EU nationals are now considering leaving the UK.”

Hunt urged the government to move to retain academics working in this UK by guaranteeing EU staff already here the right to remain.

  • Vivienne Russell
    Vivienne Russell is managing editor of Public Finance magazine and publicfinance.co.uk

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