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High returner rates amongst German academics in the US

For almost 10 years now, the German Academic International Network (GAIN) has been trying to keep young German researchers at US universities in touch with research in Germany.  The GAIN initiative, which is run by a consortium consisting of ACA member DAAD, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the German Research Council (DFG), has recently been evaluated. The results are encouraging: a big share of German researchers in North America, who benefitted from GAIN services, did eventually return into the German higher education and research system. Over two thirds of those who were served by GAIN between 2004 and 2012 are now back in Germany.

Moreover, most of the returners found positions of responsibility: 12.5% are in a tenure track position, almost 11% hold a junior professorship, 24% are postdocs and 28% run a junior research team. These shares are bigger than the respective ones of those who stayed in American higher education and research and thus demonstrate that the often made claim that career paths in US higher education are more seamless is simply a myth.  Differences in income were also largely in favour of German higher education. The fears of returners about finding an adequate position soon also turned out to be unfounded: 12% expected such difficulties, but only 2% actually encountered them.

Reading the report, one wonders why Germans in their young years move into the US university and research system at all. Federal Ministry of Education and Research (in German)