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Researcher mobility remains limited in EU, finds report

The mobility of scientists throughout Europe remains limited, despite the success of some Member States in attracting researchers from elsewhere in the EU and abroad, according to a new report from Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Communities. The report, 'H...

The mobility of scientists throughout Europe remains limited, despite the success of some Member States in attracting researchers from elsewhere in the EU and abroad, according to a new report from Eurostat, the Statistical Office of the European Communities. The report, 'How mobile are highly qualified human resources in science and technology?', finds that some 6% of the EU's human resources in science and technology (HRST) come from another country. These can be equally divided between citizens of other EU countries and those from outside the EU. However, the report shows some big disparities in the share of these non-nationals among Member States. Ahead of the rest is Luxembourg, where 46% of the HRST population come from abroad. According to the report, the high level of non-national of S&T workers can partly be explained by the Luxembourg's favourable climate for foreign investment and the relatively small size of the country. Meanwhile, in many of the other Member States, the share of non-nationals working in science and technology jobs is much lower. Non-national researchers make up 7.2% of the S&T workforce in the UK, 6.4% in Germany and 4.1% in France, while the figures for many of the new Member States, with the exception of Estonia and Cyprus, fall below 2%. The report also looks at the number and share of foreign students attending European universities. In 2004, 1.2 million students (6.6% of total students) who followed higher education courses came from abroad. More than 250,000 of these were studying science and engineering. The UK emerges as the most popular destination, attracting nearly a third of EU's foreign student population. The UK has also the highest share of foreign students in engineering (26.4%) and the second largest share for science (16.3%). Germany, despite having the second largest foreign student population, has almost 30% fewer foreign students than in the UK. The secret behind the UK's success, according to the report, is the heavy investment by its universities in specific facilities to attract foreign students and the wide choice of courses on offer.