Israeli drive to reverse ‘brain drain’

University leaders in Israel have launched projects to bring back academics and end the “brain drain”.

Moshe Kaveh, president of Bar Ilan University (BIU), said: “We now have more professors abroad than in Israel. It’s the most dangerous thing because Israel needs these brains — they build our economy.”

Mr Kaveh said that 25 per cent of foreign professors in the US are Israeli.

BIU is asking scientists to join its growing medical school in Safed, which opened two years ago. “There are only four other medical schools in Israel. This school would also help solve the brain drain,” said Mr Kaveh.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to provide $200 million towards the school if the university could privately match the sum. “So far we have raised $130m,” said Mr Kaveh.

Meanwhile, Tel Aviv University (TAU) hired 65 new faculty members in 2012 as part of a drive to bring back academics. A spokesperson said: “The university is wholly committed to… a national campaign to bring home those talented Israeli academics currently conducting research at universities abroad.”

According to a report by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics released last December, Israelis with PhDs are more likely to move abroad than remain after they graduate. Those with qualifications in science and engineering are four times more likely to move than those in social sciences fields.

There are around 20 Israeli professors and 1,000 students studying in the UK, according to the Zionist Federation.

Meanwhile, TAU statistics suggest that more than 1,400 senior Israeli professors are currently affiliated to US universities.

Last updated: 5:38pm, February 14 2013