Greece’s brain drain is others’ brain gain

Attracting high caliber scientists is a crucial and decisive factor in a country’s growth and prosperity. A country’s brain drain is not just an academic problem, but restricts possibilities for growth and reduces productivity. The overwhelming majority of the best Greek graduates who complete their studies in the US or European Union member states never come home to work. There simply aren’t any jobs in Greece, where instead of creative drive, a lack of meritocracy prevails. Some leading scientists who do come home for sentimental reasons are driven away again. A small number survive with one foot abroad and one at home. The phenomenon is not restricted to Greece; many Greek brains end up in Europe, but as many European brains go to the US. Foreigners comprise about half of the postgraduate students who complete a doctorate in the US, and since universities and industry are closely linked there, about half of those again choose to stay in the US. Since no European country can compete with the US on its own, the EU is now trying to create a European Research Area with the aim of «repatriating» Europe’s best minds and raising the standard of scientific research – not necessarily to their country of origin, but to any of the EU member states. While states such as Germany, France, Britain, Belgium, Sweden and Finland are leading the field in creating this common ground, Greece does not appear to be at all interested in developing it, whether scientifically or economically. The country is conspicuous by its absence both from the field of research (last among the 15 member states last year) and from the list of the 100 best academic foundations in Europe.