No evidence of academic brain drain in the Netherlands, says top science body


There is no evidence that more top scientific researchers are leaving the Netherlands than arriving here, the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) says in a new report.

Although one in ten Dutch researchers moves abroad at some point, the influx of researchers from other countries is equally large and in scientific terms their standard is, on average, slightly better, the report says.

‘What is actually happening is mainly an increasingly intensive international brain circulation,’ says sociologist Tanja van der Lippe. More university researchers are moving abroad, but more foreign academics are coming to this country, she told the Volkskrant.

The report, covering the previous 10 years, was drawn up following claims that the Netherlands is suffering a brain drain. It is based on statistics as well as interviews with 39 academics.

30% ruling

It concludes that the Netherlands is an attractive country within the scientific world, due to its good facilities and quality of life. However, the academic world is seen to be overwhelmingly male and white and academic salaries are low.

The 30% tax break available to most expat academics is key and should be retained, the KNAW committee says. The most common reasons given by departing scientists are the tight research budgets and the limited possibilities for securing financing for projects.

The committee recommends that the government continues to structurally invest in research. In addition, the Netherlands should profile itself more as a single academic entity – the University of the Netherlands – and highlight the close contacts between academic institutions and the short physical distances between them.

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