Britain threatened with scientific brain-drain

Thu Sep 23, 2010 7:12am EDT
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LONDON (Reuters Life!) - British government cuts to science research as part of next month's spending review could lead to a brain drain, the chairman of the Lords Science and Technology Committee said on Thursday.

The ruling Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition is looking to make cuts of about 25 percent in many government departments in an attempt to tackle a record peacetime budget deficit.

Lord Krebs said the heads of six top universities had reported that top researchers were already opting to return home or go elsewhere in anticipation of substantial cuts.

"There are already early warning signs that, even (with) talk of cuts...leading talent is hemorrhaging, going overseas, or we are failing to attract that talent," Krebs told BBC radio.

Krebs said the government must support scientific research, as other countries have continued to do, because it contributed to the overall economy.

Four senior researchers have left Oxford and Edinburgh universities to return to the United States and two candidates have withdrawn their applications for professorships at the University of Manchester, the Times said.

The details were contained in a letter from Krebs' committee to David Willetts, the universities and science minister.

Others being hit are Imperial College London and University College London.

(Writing by Avril Ormsby; Editing by Paul Casciato)