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50 academics quit University of Plymouth in three years in “Brexit brain drain”

December 2, 2019 10:51 AM
By Tim Bolton


50 EU academics from University of Plymouth have quit in the three years since the Brexit vote, research by the Liberal Democrats has revealed.

31 academics from the EU left the University of Plymouth in 2018/19, the figures show. This is up 343% from the 7 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 Torridge and West Devon 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 Torridge and West Devon, David Chalmers said:

"It is deeply concerning that Brexit has already driven 50 talented academics to abandon the University of Plymouth. We must do everything we can to stop our universities from 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 from imposing his divisive and damaging Brexit plans on Torridge and West Devon."