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Science, engineering and technology at greatest risk of Brexit university brain drain

23 February 2017

Science, engineering and technology are the areas that would suffer most from a university Brexit brain drain, suggest new figures released today.

The data, from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), shows that almost a quarter of academics (23%) in biological, mathematical and physical sciences in UK universities are from the EU. One in five (19%) academics in engineering and technology are from the EU, and overall EU staff account for 17% of total academic staff in UK universities.

UCU said the government had to guarantee EU nationals the right to remain in Britain to halt a brain drain in these key subjects and bring stability to staff, their families and universities.

The new figures come on the back of recent YouGov polling that warned 76% of non-UK EU academics were more likely to consider leaving UK higher education following the Brexit vote and a BMA report today that warns that 42% of EEA doctors are considering quitting the UK.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'These figures demonstrate once again the important role that EU and international staff play in our universities. The Prime Minister must take the lead and guarantee EU nationals the right to stay in the country, and remove the uncertainty so many talented staff, their families and our universities face.

'We are already hearing stories about academics considering leaving the country and these figures demonstrate how a brain drain would hit key areas, such as engineering, technology and biological, mathematical and physical sciences, the hardest.

'Higher education is international in its nature and our universities are one of the UK's great success stories. Staff and students who have contributed to the UK's success deserve better than to be used as pawns in negotiations about the UK's future.'

Last updated: 23 February 2017