Is Britain on the Brink of its Worst Brain Drain Ever?

By Rhiannon Davies Published on 22nd March 2011 .

Is Britain on the Brink of its Worst Brain Drain Ever?The most up to date figures relating to how many Britons are actively planning a relocation overseas have been released by Student Currency Exchange; the organisation focused their recent survey on the 18 – 25 year old age group to determine how the state of the economy in the UK is potentially impacting the decisions of young workers about where to begin their careers.

The findings reveal that over half of all surveyed students and graduates would consider moving abroad specifically for work and career related reasons, with a startlingly high 52% stating that it is actually a very serious option for them. 

It seems that record youth unemployment in Great Britain is forcing an increasing number of qualified individuals to look overseas for work.  What’s more, it has been suggested by leading experts in education that the lifting of the tuition fees cap from £3,225 to £9,000 will see more young people go abroad for tertiary education.  So, is Britain on the brink of its worst brain drain ever?

All across the UK households are being directly impacted by the state of the British economy.  Low interest rates and high inflation are eroding the value of every single pound earned.  Taxes have been increased and public services slashed.  Councils are cutting their services and closing anything and everything from courts to public toilets. 

The government has rattled on about the big society in a bid to make Britons take up the slack, and even suggested that people are encouraged to donate more to charity so that the government doesn’t have to.  At the same time the current coalition has led the nation into another conflict (in Libya) with no public consultation – and in so doing they are spending money the British economy does not have, and putting British lives at risk from increased chances of terrorism.

Against this bleak backdrop, Britain’s most valuable assets – i.e., its young, professionally skilled and qualified students and graduates – are being severely let down in many additional ways…

On the one hand tuition fees are rising; and on the other it has been demonstrated that graduates could end up paying back double their original loan amount.  Additionally, youth unemployment is at its highest rate since records began in Britain – and it’s still rising!  And nothing is being done to help graduates find employment.

At the Westminster Education Forum on higher education in London last month, leading voices in tertiary education in Britain pointed out that 1.7 percent of Britain’s entire student population is already studying overseas on permanent degree programmes.  That may not sound like a lot, but when you realise that that’s a higher percentage than the number of Chinese or Indian students who study abroad, with students from both of these nations regarded as highly likely to want to study elsewhere, you can see how British students are already leaving the UK in high volumes. 

With tuition fees in the UK now set to increase up to £9,000, it was predicted by experts in education that even more British students will look elsewhere for their university education – and that of those who do study abroad, it’s highly likely that a strong percentage will remain abroad and be recruited internationally.

So, according to Student Currency Exchange 65% of young people are contemplating relocating abroad to find work with 52% serious about relocating soon – and according to the Westminster Education Forum, it’s highly likely that even before they graduate and begin looking for work, more of Britain’s most intelligent youngsters are going to move overseas for education and career options.

Shouldn’t the British government be highly concerned that the UK is indeed poised on the brink of its worst brain drain ever?  There is nothing keeping young people living in Britain – with almost a million 16 – 24 year olds out of work currently according to the latest unemployment figures (an increase of 30,000 over the previous quarter).

Britain needs youth and talent to drive the economy on all fronts and at all levels - and yet it is doing everything it can to alienate them and send them to live abroad.  International and attractive destinations - from Australia and New Zealand to Dubai and America for example - will benefit from this brain drain, and Britain will greatly suffer for many years to come…

Rhiannon Davies's photo

Rhiannon Davies

Rhiannon is the Publishing Director at Shelter Offshore. With extensive experience as a technical author, Rhiannon's expat life began in Frankfurt with Deutsche Bank. Later as a freelance writer she was able to realise her ambition of living in some of the World's most beautiful locations.

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