Summit to focus on ‘brain drain’ as thousands leave UK each week

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A SUMMIT organised by academics in Yorkshire will explore if the UK needs an emigration policy over a “brain drain” of skilled workers that sees 3,000 Britons leave the country each week.

The seminar in London next week is part of a collaboration between experts at York, Sheffield and Leeds universities.

Figures show nine out of 10 British migrants are of working age, with the largest group being 25-44. In total, around five million Britons live outside the UK.

Neil Lunt, of York’s department of social policy and social work, said: “Every year more British citizens leave the country than return – a net loss of around 75,000 – with countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada attracting a steady flow of British migrants.

“We’ll be asking if these figures should concern us, and if so, what policymakers should be doing to tackle the exodus.

“Some people argue that it is unfair that the taxpayer is subsidising the education and training of professionals, such as doctors, nurses, engineers and scientists, who immediately depart.

“However, others view graduate migration in a more positive light, arguing that it provides an ideal opportunity for ongoing brain circulation and exchange.”

Majella Kilkey, of Sheffield’s department of sociological studies, said that despite the numbers involved British emigration had been “invisible” in policy debates.

“There is, however, increasing attention focused on what – if anything – can be done to stem a ‘brain drain’, how to reconnect with the overseas British emigrant population, and ensuring a smoother return for those who re-emigrate back to the UK,” she said.

Panellists at the seminar will include former British Ambassador and co-founder of New Europeans, Michael Roberts, Tory MP Nick de Bois and Howard Catton, of the Royal College of Nursing.