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Why fair pay policies are needed to stop the East European brain drain

By Blog Admin, on 5 December 2013

Flags MakóA significant proportion of the EU budget is spent on research grants to encourage research and innovation across Europe. Although this funding is vital, there is Michael Galsworthy argues a substantial East-West divide which is encouraging a ‘brain drain’ from Eastern Europe.

Within the European Union there is an East-West gap, in health and innovation. The gap is widening because eastern European member states (such as Poland, Romania, Latvia, Hungary and Slovakia) are winning a tiny proportion of science grants from European central funding.

Scientist salaries and jobs have hit rock-bottom following austerity measures, not only in eastern Europe but also in many southern member states. Scientists are fleeing westward, fleeing out of the EU, or just out of science. Although the main funding body European Commission is now working to help, its current policies on salaries may be causing a brain drain.

As the EC prepares its research and innovation pot of €71bn to be awarded competitively under the “Horizon 2020” programme, it is also preparing additional programs to help struggling regions restructure to be more competitive for that money. However, the most powerful medicine for the recent cocktail of grim circumstances may be a simple principle: Equal pay for equal work.

Eastern Europe has huge scientific potential, but getting there from where we are now will require smart actions at the EC, national government and grassroots levels.

How bad is the situation? With regard to winning a share of central funds, the EC’s own impact assessment of health-related research found that the 12 newest member states participated on only about 6% of projects. Worse, they took home only 2.5% of the total funds collectively. Compare this with the original 15 member states with 78% participation and 85% of funds (the rest of the funds went to participants outside the EU). To put this in context; the original 15 member states had received 34 times more health research funding, a difference that cannot be explained by their 3.8 times larger population nor even their 12.8 times greater contribution to the EU budget. Other areas of science show similar patterns.

So what is in place to help poorer member states under Horizon 2020? Unfortunately, acknowledgement of a crisis and plans to tackle it are largely missing in the standard documentation. You have to call up the right people in the EC and connect the dots. (more…)

SSEES research blog launches

By Blog Admin, on 23 October 2012

School of Slavonic and East European Studies

Photo: Steve Cadman via Wikicommons

The UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies has launched a new academic blog.

This is the inaugural post of a new blog written by academics and researchers at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University College London (UCL SSEES).  In the new SSEES Research blog we aim to provide accessible, high-quality analysis and discussion of Russia, Central, Eastern and South-East Europe and the Baltic, drawing on the  research expertise of SSEES specialists. The blog will cover all aspects of culture, economics, history, politics and societies of the region, as well as broader issues such as migration, diasporas and European identities.

Blogs are an increasingly important channel for bringing academic research and expertise to a wider audience and enhancing public debate. To this end, we aim to offer regular updated content written for the blog  from the full range of discplines at SSEES, as well as archiving some of the best writing by SSEES staff to appear elsewhere. Our first posts will appear tomorrow.

To learn more  please contact the blog’s editorial co-ordinator  Sean Hanley or simply follow us on Twitter at @SSEESResBlog.