The Brain Drain: A Second Say

By Terry Jones

I would like to respond to Francis Verity’s excellent blog on this subject, published on this site last week. Whilst I agree with his analysis of past trends, there are also worrying signs of a dangerous exodus of talent from the UK now as a direct result of Brexit – and in particular because of the confusion and bile developing regarding its implementation.

Firstly, a high number of medical graduates are now seeking careers abroad, favouring Australia, New Zealand and Canada rather than their native country. Foreign nationality nurses are also leaving the NHS to return home, many because they do not feel welcome here.

Secondly, many young graduates are seeking postgraduate places in foreign universities where the fees (at present) are far cheaper than in Britain and the courses are taught in English. EU universities are actively seeking students from the UK and the US to begin their research careers in places like Germany and Holland. Education abroad is also being increasingly sought after by undergraduates. Many universities in the EU now routinely teach their courses in English.

I acknowledge that these trends were evident before Brexit, but the decision to leave the EU has accelerated the flow of young talent out of the country and I do not believe this trend will manifest itself in a reverse brain drain as has happened in the past, simply because our exit from the EU is being conducted amid such confusion and angst. Brexit also threatens to bring economic chaos, rapidly declining living standards which will hit career-seeking young people, and an even more chronic lack of affordable housing and low wage economy. It will, in my opinion, lead to subsequent questions, the likes of which will be: why would a highly qualified engineer, computer scientist, doctor or commercial lawyer want to return to our shores any time soon?

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Terry Jones taught History to adult students taking Foundation courses at a College of Higher Education prior to their entry into full-time degree courses at Warwick and Coventry Universities. Since taking early retirement, he has travelled widely in Eastern Europe, pursuing a life-long interest in 19th and early 20th century European history. He has been a GCSE and "A" level tutor with OOL since 1996.

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