Almost 2,500 academics quit Scotland in three years in “Brexit brain drain”

Almost 2,500 EU academics have quit Scottish universities in the three years since the Brexit vote, research by the Liberal Democrats has revealed.

The analysis, based on Freedom of Information responses from 11 of Scotland’s 15 universities, shows that at least 2,462 EU academics have left Scottish universities since 2016/17, with at least 941 leaving in the last year alone. This is a significant increase on the 530 EU academics who quit in 2015/16, the academic year before the Brexit vote.

Universities with the most departures since the Brexit vote include Edinburgh (1,272), Glasgow (776) and Aberdeen (178).

Just over one third of the 3.6 million EU citizens living in the UK have had their Settled Status confirmed.

Commenting on the figures, Scottish Liberal Democrat Education spokesperson Beatrice Wishart MSP said:

“It is deeply concerning that Brexit has already driven many talented academics to abandon the UK.

“Scotland has some of the best universities in the world, but their academic excellence is anchored to the talents of their people, many of whom are from the EU. Ending freedom of movement, and making our country less open, will hurt these institutions.

“Our universities are being threatened by a Brexit brain drain, exacerbated by Boris Johnson’s reckless commitment to crash us out of the EU no matter the cost.

“This is sadly not surprising given the Tory party has adopted the xenophobic rhetoric of Nigel Farage, making our colleagues, friends and family from the EU feel unwelcome.

“The UK Government must acknowledge and address the problem, change its rhetoric and make sure that people who have chosen to come here feel welcome.”

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