Thursday, 21 February 2008

Number of Israeli Scholars in the U.S. Equals One-Quarter of Those at Home, Report Says

Thursday, February 21, 2008


A new report on the brain drain from Israeli universities suggests
that the ratio of Israeli academics working in the United States to
those in Israel is nearly 25 percent.

The report, "Brain Drained," is based on a study by Dan Ben-David of
the department of public policy at Tel Aviv University. It says that
"a massive policy breakdown" in higher education has created
conditions in which "the rate of academic emigration from Israel to
the United States is unparalleled in the Western world."

In the report, Mr. Ben-David argues that a shortage of university
teaching and research posts here "has made it extremely difficult for
young new researchers to return to Israel," and so "a large and
growing number of Israel's top researchers and scientists have
emigrated from the country, primarily to the United States."

According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and
Development, 82,905 foreign scholars worked at American universities
in 2003-4, representing 7.1 percent of the combined senior academic

Of those, the largest single group was 3,117 British scholars,
representing 2.1 percent of the senior academic faculty in Britain.
Among Canadian scholars, the ratio of those residing in the United
States that academic year to those in Canada was 12.2 percent.

Philosophers From Afar

Israeli scholars were far ahead of that rate. "The 1,409 Israeli
academics residing in the States in 2003-4 represented 24.9 percent of
the entire senior staff in Israel's academic institutions that
year­twice the Canadian ratio and over five times the ratio in the
other developed countries," writes Mr. Ben-David.

He says that the numbers of Israelis working in the United States are
equal to one-eighth of all Israel's chemists, 15 percent of the
country's philosophers, and 29 percent of "top Israeli economists."

"The group with the greatest proportional representation in the top
American departments is computer science," he reports. "The number of
Israelis in just the top 40 U.S. computer-science departments
represents a full third of the entire contingent remaining in Israel."

Israel's educational policy makers have been concerned for some time
about a brain drain. A government committee that reported last year on
reforms in higher education recommended specific new spending to
encourage talented young academics to stay in Israel and to lure back
those who had left.

Rabbi Michael Melchior, chairman of the education committee in the
Knesset, Israel's Parliament, puts the total number of Israeli
academics abroad at about 3,000­ - more than double the figure cited by
Mr. Ben-David.

"It costs about $1-million to train and educate someone to professor
level," Mr. Melchior told The Chronicle. "So we've paid about
$3-billion, which has been thrown out of the window."

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