Turkish scientists flocking back home to reverse brain drain

EVRIN GÜVENDIK
ISTANBUL
Published

Concerned over the departure of accomplished scientists and academics for work abroad, Turkey is striving to bring back its academic diaspora. The country's foreign ministry is looking for ways to ensure the return of academics and scientists, along with Turks who found success abroad in politics, business, arts, literature and sports. Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has stated that Turkey has stop being a victim of the brain drain phenomenon, pointing to 595 scientists returning home, adding that it is among the government's priorities to provide incentives to ensure more such returns, especially among researchers.

Answering lawmakers' questions on the country's brain drain, Çavuşoğlu said a 5.5 million-strong Turkish diaspora resides across the globe, from North America to Australia, and Turkey also has a large number of its citizens settled abroad in pursuit of scientific research and artistic activities. He said the reverse brain drain started in the past decade, thanks to new policies and incentives. Çavuşoğlu said Turkish missions abroad were pursuing efforts to contact Turks in diaspora and to convince them to return home.

The State-run Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) has already drafted an inventory of Turkish scientists living abroad and offered scholarships in order to reverse the brain drain, in cooperation with the European Research Council. In eight years, some 595 researchers returned to Turkey and the number is expected to grow. Scholarships offer a monthly stipend as well as a one-time research grant for returning scientists. Most scientists opt for employment at universities.

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