Having the freedom to move internationally and pursue collaborations in other countries is essential for good research and innovation, according to a survey of Fellows and grant recipients of the UK’s four national academies: the Academy of Medical Sciences, British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering and Royal Society.

The UK National Academies commissioned Opinion Leader to conduct a qualitative and quantitative study of our Fellows and grant recipients to better understand their international collaborations and mobility.

Report: The role of international collaboration and mobility in research (1.36 MB)

Some 1,286 of the UK’s leading researchers (consisting of 762 Fellows and 524 grant recipients across the four national academies) were surveyed to find out about the importance of international collaboration and mobility. Key findings include:

  • Europe was reported to be the most likely continent in which respondents travelled (95%) and collaborated with other researchers in (87%)
  • 58% of respondents said they had spent a year or more working abroad, 64% of which had spent this time in North America
  • 95% said they had been part of at least one international collaboration in the past five years
  • 77% said that the level of international collaboration is more common now than it was 20 years ago

Survey participants’ motivations to pursue international collaborations included contributing expertise (73%), a desire to build or maintain links with researchers based overseas (66%) and accessing expertise (54%).

Professor Dame Ann Dowling OM DBE FREng FRS, President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said:

“Engineering has a particularly mobile workforce; this is true in both industry and academia, and across all skills levels. The ability of our researchers, innovators and entrepreneurs to collaborate internationally, spend time in other countries, and welcome students and colleagues from around the world is fundamental to maintaining the UK’s strength as a world leader in engineering.”

Notes for editors

  1. Royal Academy of Engineering. As the UK’s national academy for engineering, we bring together the most successful and talented engineers for a shared purpose: to advance and promote excellence in engineering. We provide analysis and policy support to promote the UK’s role as a great place to do business. We take a lead on engineering education and we invest in the UK’s world-class research base to underpin innovation. We work to improve public awareness and understanding of engineering. We are a national academy with a global outlook.

    We have four strategic challenges:
    - Make the UK the leading nation for engineering innovation
    - Address the engineering skills crisis
    - Position engineering at the heart of society
    - Lead the profession

For more information please contact:

Jane Sutton at the Royal Academy of Engineering
T: 020 7766 0636;
E:  Jane Sutton