Brain drain from UK is 'worst in the world'

More than 1.44 million graduates have left the UK to look for more highly paid jobs in countries such as the United States, Canada and Australia. That far outweighs 1.26 million immigrant graduates in the UK, leaving a net "brain loss" of some 200,000 people.

The findings will fuel concerns that Britain's failure to defend its manufacturing, science and university base is pushing highly skilled workers overseas and risks damaging long-term productivity.

The scale of the emigration as a share of the total skilled workforce is also high. At 16.7 per cent - or one in six graduates - it is much higher than any other major industrialised country. In contrast, France has lost just 3.4 per cent of its graduates, the lowest level of any large country.

Frederic Docquier, one of the report's authors, said: "It does show an economic problem for developed countries. For countries such as the UK, a brain drain is clearly a loss. It may impact the rate of growth and the number of innovations that create growth in the long-run," he told The Independent.

He said the problem was exacerbated by the relatively low level of university education in the UK, which means the exodus of professionals is more keenly felt. Fewer than 20 per cent of Britons are educated to degree level and the figures are higher on the Continent - 27 per cent in Belgium, 25 per cent in Germany and 22 in France - and way below levels in the US.

His research suggested that British graduates were mainly moving to the US, Canada and Australia. "That is not surprising given the common language," he said.

But he said the sheer scale of emigration was much higher than rivals such as Germany. "Many Germans go to the US but the British are everywhere," he said. "You can go to any country and you will find a British graduate - that's why the figures are so high."

The most attractive destination is the US, which has 400,000 Britons followed by Canada and Australia with 365,000 each, and 200,000 in the rest of the EU. Some 120,000 go to other member countries of the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development which includes states such as Saudi Arabia and South Korea.

Graduates are even going to India to work in call centres. Last week, a survey found that UK graduates were prepared to fill an expected 16,000 Indian call-centre vacancies by 2009. A report earlier this year said a Scottish history graduate quit his £21,000 a year job for Sky Television to work in an Indian call centre.

Such clear evidence of the scale of the brain drain will worry employers such as engineering and pharmaceutical companies who need qualified graduates.

In August, a report for the Department for Education and Skills found that low pay, increased administrative duties and fixed-term contracts were causing leading academics to pursue their careers overseas.

So far even the World Bank's study is unable to show how many graduates various professions have lost. "This information is well-known to be hard to establish," Mr Docquier said. He said there was an urgent need for more research in the UK to find out if the exodus was more prevalent in "growth" sectors such as engineering, IT, medicine and academia compared with graduates generally.

He said there were signs of improvement. The emigration rate has fallen from above 20 per cent in the 1970s to 18 per cent in 1990 to 16.7 per cent now due to policies boosting education.

The report comes a week after official UK figures showed that the number of British citizens leaving the UK had hit a record of 208,000. The Confederation of British Industry highlighted the phenomenon of globalisation as enabling all businesses to look overseas for recruitment.

Jamie Anderson, 27: 'It's easier to be creative now'

By Arifa Akbar

Jamie Anderson moved to Greece two years ago after graduating in architecture from Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh.

In Athens, he found there were far greater opportunities and more creative projects.

"Architects go through a very long training process and I assumed I would be working by the end of the line. I spoke to some people in Britain and I was warned off it. They said you work long hours and do not reap the benefits of doing what you want to do.

"I remember sending out 50 letters in the UK and not receiving any job offers and only a couple of replies," he said.

He left Britain at the age of 25 in 2003, and found it easy to find work in Athens, which was preparing to stage the 2004 Olympics at the time.

"I joined a language class and it was through a friend of a friend there that I got my job in Greece. In the UK, it's extremely difficult to find a job, especially if have no experience. When I came to Greece, there were more opportunities," he said.

Having worked for several companies in Edinburgh over two years before moving to Greece, Mr Anderson was frustrated by the amount of paperwork and red tape that he encountered, compared to his work in Greece.

He works at Aiolou Architects, designing homes for foreign clients, and said that the work is far more creative than it would be in Britain.

"Whenever I was involved in designing anything in Britain, I reached this stumbling block of regulation, which often inhibited the designing and which wasn't very gratifying. In Greece, it is easier to be creative. I am able to do bigger projects and have more responsibility," he said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
News
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
people
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
News
i100
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UI / UX Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...

Recruitment Genius: General Processor

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot