Skip to content
Policy projects

International researcher mobility

The Society has published new evidence on international mobility and collaboration, to deepen our understanding of how, where and why researchers move to and from the UK.

In a world in which research is carried out on a truly global basis, collaboration and mobility are a key part of the business of science. International mobility ensures a circulation of skills and ideas around the world, and ‘brain circulation’ in the global research system sees scientists follow the best science and the best resources. The UK is a hub for excellent science with a truly international workforce; 29% of the UK academic workforce is from overseas, as are over half of PhD students.

The Society is working to deepen understanding of when, where and why researchers move, as well as how this impacts on their science and their careers. In May 2017, we published new research and case studies (see Rolodex below) that together present an up-to-date picture of international researcher mobility to and from the UK, to the EU and beyond.

The Society will continue to be active on international researcher mobility. This is part of our work to ensure the health of UK science and innovation and to support the UK in its broader role in international science. It is crucial that government policies support the UK to attract the talent it needs from overseas, as well as enabling UK scientists to travel abroad. This work is particularly timely in the context of the Society’s broader work to ensure the best possible outcome of Brexit, as arrangements for the movement of researchers to and from the UK could change.

Our research

  • International mobility of researchers: A review of the literature

    A commissioned report from RAND Europe, giving an overview of patterns, drivers and trends in researcher mobility to and from the UK, to the EU and beyond.

    Read the report

  • International mobility of researchers: Perspectives from industry

    A supplementary report from RAND Europe looking at international researcher mobility in industry and how the patterns, drivers, barriers and perceived outcomes compare with academia.

    Read the report

  • International mobility of researchers: A survey of academics in the UK

    A commissioned survey from RAND Europe of over 1,285 UK academics, providing an up-to-date picture of the patterns, drivers, barriers and perceived outcomes of mobility.

    Read the report

  • The role of international collaboration and mobility in research

    Findings from a qualitative and quantitative study with Fellows and grant recipients of the Royal Society, British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering and the Academy of Medical Sciences.

    Read the report

  • International mobility case studies

    A set of 10 case studies of individuals, showing the role that international mobility has played in their career. 

    Explore the case studies

  • The role of the EU in international research collaboration and researcher mobility

    The Society's pre-referendum report looks at the EU's role in this area, while the UK is a Member State. 

    Read the report

Further reading