Just shy of 11,000 EU academics working in the UK have quit their position in the three years since Britain voted to leave the European Union, new figures from the Lib Dems have revealed.
The analysis, based on freedom of information responses from 81 universities, also showed that over 4,000 EU academics left UK universities in the last year alone – a 31% increase on the 3,000 who left before the vote.
In 2018/19, 4,014 EU academics left UK universities compared to 3,051 in 2015/16.
Oxford, Edinburgh and Cambridge all top the universities which have seen the largest number of EU academics leaving since the Brexit vote, with respectively 1,515, 1,271 and 1,292 EU staff leaving each institution.
The Liberal Democrats called the figures “deeply concerning” and added they point towards a “Brexit brain drain” due to uncertainty over freedom of movement and international research funding.
Lib Dem Shadow Education Secretary Layla Moran said: “It is a deeply concerning that Brexit has already driven so many talented academics to abandon the UK.
“Our universities are being threatened by a Brexit brain drain, exacerbated by Boris Johnson’s reckless promise to crash us out of the EU by 2020 no matter the cost.”
Academics also face uncertainty over their immigration status and their funding following Brexit, which could make the UK less competitive in attracting international talent.
The higher education body Universities UK already found 60% of universities surveyed believed they had lost existing or potential staff members because of Brexit, and other research has shown the UK’s share of total EU research funding has fallen by 4.5% or nearly half a billion pounds.
“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,” Layla Moran continued.
“It’s not too late to turn the tide and prevent Boris Johnson imposing his divisive Brexit plans on the country.”