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What are the implications of Global Mobility on the academic world?

The 21st century has witnessed a wave of global mobility amongst scholars and researchers, and yet little is said about the impact of such movements on international Academia. As more and more scientists consider the prospect of moving abroad to conduct research, what are the implications of such mobility patterns in the field?

Motivations behind academic mobility

According to the OECD, global mobility in Academia is quantified by the number of doctoral holders working abroad, a movement, which may be driven by factors like better funding and facilities, post-research job opportunities, and cultural benefits. In fact, a migration survey by Nature shows that specific positions and respective salaries, overseas training, and better facilities were the biggest motivators for members of the Academic force to move abroad, although languages, cultural diversity and family reasons also came into play.

Towards higher standards of research

Highly qualified foreign researchers are more likely to stimulate knowledge transfer, innovative research and collaboration projects due to the exchange of research techniques and experience. Though this correlation between global mobility and international joint publishing is not yet empirically proven, when looking at the top academic publications and the number of foreign researchers in the host country, we can see that international mobility does foster a more rigorous work ethic resulting in a higher quality of research produced.

Effects on public policy

Another aspect in which global mobility impacts the Academic sphere is through the diverse governmental policies that are implemented as a response to scholars’ increased volatility. Administrations have been seen to work on improving working conditions for migrants, simplifying visa administration and trying to foster better cultural immersion. Countries like Switzerland, the USA and Canada – whose institutions attract a large number of international scholars – have to adapt to this surge in spite of the current international political climate regarding immigration flows.

Issues with high mobility

On the flip side, more and more attention is given to the fact that such migration flows amongst academics are one-sided, and often result in a ‘brain drain’ for developing countries. For example, in recent years, China and India have made efforts to incentivise nationals to come back after their time abroad because of the potential revenue from their new-found knowledge and experience. However statistics show that scholars are rarely motivated to return to their home countries for professional reasons, although cultural and personal factors may incite a move back.

The increased global mobility amongst scholars in recent years has changed the academic landscape for many countries, and the consequences of such migration patterns are important to consider as more and more people look beyond borders for research opportunities. While there are undeniable benefits to this type of transnational co-operation, future policy changes may have an impact on Scholars’ working environment in the West and elsewhere.

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