Nevertheless, Robertson is confident that the UK is likely to continue to attract high numbers of international staff as the academic world continues to become more globalised. And she has also identified a trend that suggests the loss of a few brains to other countries may not be as draining as it seems. New Zealand and Scotland have both introduced schemes designed to tap into the knowledge and experience of academic nationals who have gone overseas and encourage them to feed back what they have learned for the benefit of their mother country. "It's an interesting twist on the idea of the academic abroad," she says.
Australia is another country doing a good job of tapping its diaspora assets. I'm unaware of native talent leaving the United State en masse, unless you consider the forced boomerang migration of foreign born university graduates. Domestic geographic mobility of labor is the US challenge. At the national scale, America benefits from this kind of worker flexibility. But for regions and at the state level, there is a brain drain crisis.
The first cultural hurdle to be cleared is that the brains of outsiders are as good, if not better, than the brains of locals. However, the native bias might provide a distinct advantage in world of depreciating social capital. That is the diaspora dividend, which Scotland and New Zealand are beginning to collect. Getting expatriates to move back is all well and good, but such projects are horribly inefficient. Yet boomerang initiatives abound, but I have not encountered even one domestic diaspora network.