No mass exodus of top scientists from Netherlands yet

The idea that top talent is leaving the Dutch scientific world en masse, is not completely accurate, according to the Royal Dutch academy for science KNAW in a new report. Though measures need to be taken to prevent such an exodus happening in the future, the scientists warn, reports.

KNAW had an advisory committee look into how the internationalization of academic science in the Netherlands developed over the past decade. The committee interviewed 39 researchers from the Netherlands and abroad, met with board members of scientific institutes, and compared the results with figures from China, Germany, the United Kingdom, and Sweden. Scientists aren't departing from the Netherlands on a large scale, as is regularly warned in the media and at universities, but there is a risk of this happening in the future, the committee concluded in a report titled The attractiveness of the Netherlands as a research country.

While there are top scientists that leave the Netherlands, many international scientists also come to the country. And as a result the outflow and inflow are more or less in balance, according to the report. Most Dutch scientists who leave go to the United States, the United Kingdom and Germany. Incoming scientists are most often from Germany and Italy. 30 percent of academic staff in the Netherlands have a foreign background. About 90 percent of these foreign talents stay in the Netherlands, partly thanks to highly valued subsidies, and the regulation whereby 30 percent of their income are exempt from tax.

Internationally, the Netherlands is doing well in terms of the quality of research, scientific infrastructure, the balance between work- and private life, and the quality of education for children of international scientists living here. The country scores less well in terms of diversity and the availability of research funding. 

KNAW warns that less structural funding in general, and declining research budgets for curiosity-driven research in particular, can lead to an exodus of scientific talent in the future. It is important that existing subsidies are not abolished, and that Dutch universities and other research institutes present themselves on more than one front, KNAW advises.