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Experiences of mobility differ between groups

Experiences of mobility differ between groups

The postdoctoral period is important for mobility yet receives less focus in literature than PhDs

38% of UK researchers move to take a postdoctoral position in another country following their PhD studies

Graduates from elsewhere in the EU are even more likely than UK nationals to move overseas after graduation, and there is also the indication that international postdoctoral mobility is becoming more common

43% of postdocs cite that the availability of research funding is a particularly important barrier to mobility for early-career researchers

A key driver of mobility for postdocs is career progression, and personal circumstances are generally considered to be less of a barrier for this group than for more senior researchers

Women are less internationally mobile than men, facing greater personal barriers

Personal relationships, children and family care responsibilities can inhibit mobility

Male researchers are more likely to be mobile than female researchers

  • Male = 28%
  • Female = 21%

Childcare arrangements are important factors in mobility decisions, especially for women

When they do move, women report greater benefits from mobility

Elite scientists are drawn to research excellence

Funding is less of a barrier for this group

Elite scientists are drawn to strong institutions who already have excellent researchers

The US and UK are key destinations for elite scientists

More senior scientists may better maintain collaborative links with their country of origin and may be better able to benefit from networking benefits as well as gains in terms of academic performance

Adapted from International mobility of researchers: A review of the literature by Susan Guthrie, Catherine Lichten, Jennie Corbett and Steven Wooding, RR-1991/1-RS, 2017, available at

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