As a part of the project WEB-InUnion (Bringing Western Balkan Countries closer to the Innovation Union), we have conducted a study (policy analysis and a survey) to examine the remaining mobility obstacles hindering mobility for researchers. The following are some of the topics we addressed during the study: quality of doctoral training, attractive employment conditions and gender balance in research careers, mobility across countries and sectors, open recruitment in public research institutions.

We believe that these issues are also the basis for the brain drain phenomena that exists in our countries.  To that end, we would like to point out a few key elements that we believe contribute to researchers migrating abroad, as we have concluded in our findings.  We would also like to point out some positive examples that are being taken to improve the research environment in the region. With the following questionnaire we would like to receive your input to further investigate the roots of this problem, so we can then make policy recommendations to our governments, and hopefully attract some of our researchers abroad back home, and prevent existing researchers from migrating. 

I.Promoting attractive working conditions 

-Although the outcome is favorable for the working conditions in the Western Balkan Countries (benefits are provided, such as health care and pension rights, sabbatical leaves of up to a year, and flexible working hours), nevertheless improvements can be made by Implementing the Charter and Code.  

-Some positive steps over the years is that all countries (except for Albania) are on the path towards implementing the European Charter for Researchers and the Code of conduct for the Recruitment for Researchers which is a part of the Human Resources Strategy for Researchers which aims to protect and ensure the rights of researchers at their place of employment, and thus make the research environment in our respective countries more favorable. (for more info click here: 

II.Open Recruitment

-Open recruitment – by enforcing the publication of job vacancies on the EURAXESS Jobs portal.

- Positive example is the Croatian government which adopted this principle from July 2013 – where there is in place a legal obligation to announce scientific job positions on the EURAXESS Jobs portal – which is a positive step towards greater transparency in the selection process. We aim to follow this example elsewhere in the region to promote open recruitment.

III.Mobility

-Value mobility in the recruitment process (for research positions). This is a positive example of the Greek system, where mobility is valued, but it stops at the recruitment process.  It is imperative to implement a system where mobility will be an integral part of the career development of a researcher.

IV.Research Infrastructure

-Improved research infrastructure – especially in the case of Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro. The level of awareness on this issue has risen in the last years, but concrete measures need to take place where laboratories are equipped with state of the art infrastructure.

V.Gender Balance

-Gender balance in the region is at the highest in Europe with female researchers representing above 40% of researchers in the region. Gender discrimination is also a very rare occurrence.

VI.Quality of Doctoral Training

-Improve the training of PhD students, specifically the skills which are related to project management, intercultural communication, language skills, etc. One positive change is the more frequent examples of studies that are being conducted in a language different than the native one (English). 

VII.Funding

-Funding needs to be significantly increased on a national level throughout the region, since research and development and innovation are the driving factors to stimulating the economy and improving the lifestyle which are deemed as the greatest factors contributing to brain drain in the region.