A recent publication in European Journal of Higher Education underscored negative effects of international mobility of returning academics. While international mobility is frequently labelled as positive for academic´s career there is less understanding of its negative consequences and long term effects when a mobile researcher returns to their home country after an extended period abroad.
The exploratory article “The impact of international mobility as experienced by Spanish academics” was based on 30 semi-structured interviews of Spanish academics who undertook a research stay abroad at a leading and top research institution and returned to their home country. Besides narrating positive experiences in terms of their knowledge and career, academics reported feeling horribly unbalanced upon the return to their home institutions.
They pointed out the difficulties in coming back to an under developed research culture where scientific activity hardly existed. They felt frustrated that there were no proper research facilities and no will on the part of the management to incorporate their new ideas in the current research workflow.
These findings were embedded within the framework of Spanish higher education system as rigid and closed, however they do highlight that the benefits of international experiences of returning academics seem to be conditioned by the development level of the scientific system as well as by the way institutions receive them. Authors urge for more research to validate these findings.