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.

News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Sport
footballManchester City 1 Roma 1: Result leaves Premier League champions in danger of not progressing
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
i100
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
booksWell it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
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

Commercial Litigation NQ+

Very Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE NQ to MID LEVEL - An e...

MANCHESTER - SENIOR COMMERCIAL LITIGATION -

Highly Attractive Pakage: Austen Lloyd: MANCHESTER - A highly attractive oppor...

Senior Marketing Manager - Central London - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (Campaigns, Offlin...

Head of Marketing - Acquisition & Direct Reponse Marketing

£90000 - £135000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Marketing (B2C, Acquisition...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?