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Research partnership to limit brain drain from developing world

Wednesday 13 December 2017

A UNIQUE research partnership between the University of Salford and an African institution has been set up to limit the ‘brain drain’ of academics leaving countries in the developing world.

The partnership enables postgraduate healthcare research students from Aga Khan University – which has campuses in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda – to spend one month a year with researchers at the University of Salford while working on their PhDs.
The first intake of five PhD students, who are all carrying out research work into improving healthcare while working as senior midwives and nurses in Ugandan hospitals, have now arrived in Salford.
The split-site agreement means the students get the benefits of working in a British university, but ends problems that have traditionally meant researchers from African countries have had to leave their home nations to spend three years in European or north American institutions – often not returning.
The agreement came following close links that have been developed between the University of Salford, the Knowledge For Change charity – which provides staff and students with experience of working in Uganda – and the Aga Kahn Foundation.
Professor Louise Ackers from the University of Salford said: “The traditional model would have meant these students would come here to do their PhDs for three years, taking key staff out of their home institutions with the risk that many would not return. 

“Traditional PhDs have exacerbated a huge brain drain that has been a big problem for years, with countries in the developing world not benefiting from the expertise their brightest students are able to offer.
“Our unique split-site model means these researchers will get all the benefits from spending time in the UK’s research environment, and of course enriching the work we do here at the University. However, it also means they will then go on to play a critical role by adding to the expertise which exists in their home countries and undertaking high impact research which will benefit their own local health systems.”