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I can't tell from the article... are these students who left Germany only _after_ suffering through the German university system to earn their doctorate?

I wonder how many more students leave Germany to earn their degree abroad, and then simply never come back.

Can this story be true? If so the state of European science is worse than even your post suggest.


Euro-Scientists Accused of ‘Rover-Envy’

“Simply Awesome!” That’s how scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory describe the adrenaline rush from the success of their Mars ‘Spirit’ rover this past week. The Mars probe mission has performed flawlessly thus far with Mission Controllers releasing dozens of color photos in the past 48 hours.

But not everyone was enthusiastic.

“It’s just more American arrogance,” says Belgium scientist Nathan Shingle, with the European Space Agency (ESA). The agency’s own Mars rover, ‘Beagle’, has not responded to signals since its scheduled landing in December and is presumed lost. “There’s nothing more loathsome than seeing NASA eggheads dance around doing high-fives, ‘Look at me, look at me!’ We’re on Mars!’ Bleh, whatever.”

Mars Project Manager James August accused the Europeans of suffering from ‘Rover-Envy.’ “Looks like someone used a bargain brand rover,” said August. He went on to state that two out of three scientists surveyed preferred NASA rovers over the no-name brand rover.

“Says who?” countered Shingle, heatedly. “There’s no survey, they are making that up!”

As for the color photos from ‘Spirit’, Shingle and his German counterpart, Vaas Hoffseig, seemed unimpressed.

“Have you seen those pictures?” said Hoffseig. “Big whoop! I swear they took the old Viking photos from 1977 and just Photoshopped them. I laughed when I saw them!”

“I thought they were boring,” Shingle interjected.

“They were funny and boring,” Hoffseig added. “I laughed, then quickly fell asleep.”

August shrugged off the Rover Envy with a grin. “If those guys want some help we’d be glad to, you know, give them a few pointers. Maybe our rover will stumble over their dead one, and we can give it a little push. What’s it called again? Bagel?”

Anyone can see their photo's are puny and weak, said Dr. Shingle. Ya, der spaceships are for little girls, remarked Hoffsieg.

Maybe the European Space Agency needs to ask the Bundeswehr (German Army) for a few tips on roving. They're pretty good at roving about Europe. And when it comes to Mars, the god of war, what country knows more?

Welcome to America! Could you please invite any relatives who happen to be Braumeisters to please come over here and start making some decent lager?

And decent wursts too!

Unfortunately, Germany is suffering not only from a 'brain drain', but from a 'beer drain' as well. Foreign breweries have taken advantage of consolidation in the German brewery industry. The largest German brewery is the Belgian Interbrew, and the Danish Carlsberg just bought Holsten. See, for example, http://www.realbeer.com/news/articles/news-002117.php

The reasons for this are structural within the German economy. In addition to better pay, research dollars are more available in the US. We can expect little to change unless and until Germany deals with its structural issues (i.e., high taxes that suck corporate money that would be spent on research into government coffers, labor regulations that all but prevent flexibility in the workforce, a top-down mentality that discourages the innovation necessary for cutting-edge theoretical research, a weak economy that further discourages companies to spend on research and development, etc.). Perhaps some of the world's best politicians could begin to tackle the tough decisions that are necessary to make these structural changes.

Well, it seems that Germany, the envy of the world just a generation ago, is heading down the slippery slope. The big problem is that the slope is slippery, and it is extremely hard to keep even the position, not even thinking about climbing back to the top. The welfare state (read high taxes) is at work. Those people who actually feed the country are leaving in droves. Every seventh with science degrees? Is it truly that bad? This should be an omen to those countries who think that in today's open world, they can still redistribute wealth. It doesn't work. Those people who actually contribute will leave sooner or later. They can find greener pastures. Also, it will be extremely hard to replace those people who left since the new people, after finishing their education, will also leave. Now Germany will need to spend far more money on education just to keep the level they have now since many young graduates will leave after graduation. Where will it lead? More taxation? A vicious circle. A while ago I read that 50% of students leave Denmark after finishing their studies. Is it true? Is this were Germany is heading?


I did notice they said they were going to pump in an extra 110 million into research over the next four years. This shows they haven't a clue what they're fighting over: 110 million over four years is a rounding error in the American expenditure, which has a 138 billion dollar a year advantage over the entire European area.

The best hope for the general European research sector to somewhat stem the flow (stopping it is impossible at this point) is to stop actively annoying researchers (one of my parents was a German researcher who came here for precisely that reason). The reason for that is the so-called "Soviet" style of the German and French and Belgian and Dutch research establishments.

Apparently Europe gave us its tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to be free. And now we want its energetic, educated, huddled elites yearning for something worthwhile to do. The last educated German should remember to turn out the lights and close the door on the way out, because you know those east german clods won't know how to do it.

Indeed, the situation in Germany's universities IS that bad. A quick example: I have obtained my PhD abroad and now I am back in Germany, partly for personal reasons. Here, I have to work on my Habilitation (a sort of second PhD thesis), publish in journals and teach four hours a week. That does not sound too bad, but consider that two of these hours are in an undergraduate course with 300-400 students, where teaching is not limited to the formal two hours, but involves quite bit of academic babysitting in addition to the lectures themselves. Time for research, thus, is relatively scarce.

Compare that to a young colleague in the USA. He or she is an assistant professor, needs no formal degree like the Habilitation after the PhD. He or she usually is on tenure track and therefore has a high probability of being able to stay at the current university, whereas postdoc positions in Germany are limited to a maximum of six years - then it's boom or bust, i.e., either you find a full professorship or you're unemployed. And finally, my colleague at a top university in the USA has a good chance of having his teaching workload limited to one or two hours per term, and these are often seminars instead of busy undergraduate courses.

So, yes, indeed, it is pure fun to be a young researcher in Germany...

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