Over 550 academics quit Yorkshire in three years in “Brexit brain drain”

Over 550 EU academics from Yorkshire universities have quit the UK in the three years since the Brexit vote, research by the Liberal Democrats has revealed. Over 200 academics from the EU left Yorkshire universities in 2018/19 alone, up 22% from those who left in 2015/16, the year before the Brexit vote.


The analysis, based on Freedom of Information responses from 81 universities, shows that across the country 4,014 EU academics have left UK universities in 2018/19. The Liberal Democrats said the figures reveal that uncertainty across Yorkshire 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.

Liberal Democrat candidate for Bradford, Jeanette Sunderland, said:

“It is a deeply concerning that Brexit has already driven over 550 talented academics from the EU to abandon Yorkshire. We must do everything we can to stop our universities being threatened by this Brexit brain drain.

“The Tory party has adopted the xenophobic rhetoric of Nigel Farage, making our colleagues, friends and family from the EU feel unwelcome. The situation risks being made even worse by Boris Johnson’s reckless promise to crash us out of the EU by 2020 no matter the cost.

“The Liberal Democrats are the only party that can still stop Boris, stop Brexit, and protect our university which is so important to local jobs and prosperity. It’s not too late to turn the tide and prevent Boris Johnson imposing his divisive and damaging Brexit plans on Bradford.”

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