From Russia to the UK. On Migration Mechanism of Young Russian Computer Scientists

From Russia to the UK. On Migration Mechanism of Young Russian Computer Scientists

Antoshchuk I.A.

PhD candidate at St Petersburg State University, St. Petersburg, Russia and University of Amsterdam

Ledeneva V.Yu.

Dr. Sci. (Sociol.), Assoc. Prof. of Conflictology and migration security department at Institute of law and national security of Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration under the President of the Russian Federation, Moscow, Russia

ID of the Article:

The Research was supported by Russian Foundation for Basic Research via grant № 17-311-50037. Internships in the UK were supported by Centre for German and European Studies and European University at Saint Petersburg.

For citation:

Antoshchuk I.A., Ledeneva V.Yu. From Russia to the UK. On Migration Mechanism of Young Russian Computer Scientists. Sotsiologicheskie issledovaniya [Sociological Studies]. 2019. No 2. P. 108-118


Internationalization of science and higher education are accompanied by increasing transnational mobility of early career scholars. Young scientists from Russia become more and more involved in this process, with United Kingdom being one of the major destination countries. Though this trend is discussed as an acute national problem, investigations focus mainly on structural conditions causing migration and influent individual motivation to move abroad, while much less is known about the migration process itself. How is the intention to move transformed into an act of migration? What migratory institutions, networks and resources are involved in the process of migration making it possible? The paper is aimed at answering these questions and explaining how transnational mobility of young Russian scientists is realized, especially taking into account high entry barriers to the United Kingdom. Using migration network theory and institutional theory of migration authors develop the concept of migration mechanism functioning as a intermediary social structure connecting host and home country. Based on semi-structucred interviews with young Russian computer scientists who moved to the UK in 1998-2015, authors demonstrate that organizational ties with Russian-speaking scholars in the destination country, providing access to vital resources, represent a major driving force behind this process, while the role of institutions is secondary.

academic migration; migration mechanism; channels and resources of migration


Ackers L. (2005) Moving People and Knowledge: Scientific Mobility in the European Union. International Migration. Vol. 43. No. 5: 99–131.

Antoschyuk I. A. (2017) Russian Computer Scientists in the UK: Analysis of the Migration Mechanism. Monitoring obschestvennogo mneniya: Economicheskiye i sotsialniye peremeny [Monitoring of Public Opinion: Economic and Social Changes]. No. 1: 140–155. (In Russ.).

Arefiev A. (2004) Internships Abroad: Sociological Analysis. Vysshee obrazovaniye v Rossii [Higher Education in Russia]. No. 2: 144–158. (In Russ.).

Chankseliani M., Hessel G. (2016) International Student Mobility from Russia, Eastern Europe, Caucasus, and Central Asia to the UK: Trends, Institutional Rationales and Strategies for Student Recruitment. Oxford: The Centre for Comparative and International Education University of Oxford.

Dezhina I.G. (2003) Youth in Science. Sotsiologicheskij zhurnal [Sociological Journal]. No. 1: 71–87. (In Russ.).

Dezhina I.G. (2014) “Brain Drain from Russia”: What Is Actual Situation? In: Russia 2014. Annual Report of French-Russian Analytical Centre Observo. Moscow: OOO “Novyj vek media”: 220–223. (In Russ.)

Fawcett J.T. (1989) Networks, Linkages, and Migration Systems. International Migration Review. Vol. 23. No. 3: 671–680.

Gurak D.T., Caces F. (1992) Migration Networks and the Shaping of Migration Systems. In: Kritz M.M. et al. (eds) International Migration Systems: A Global Approach. Oxford: Oxford University Press: 150–176.

Hedström P., Swedberg R., Hernes G. (eds) (1998) Social Mechanisms: An Analytical Approach to Social Theory. Cambridge University Press.

Klyachko T., Avraamova E.M., Loginov D., Polushkina E., Semionova E. (2018) Youth Employment. What Influences the Youth Labor Mobility? URL: (accessed 05.07.2018). (In Russ.)

Ledeneva V.Y. (2014) Intellectual Migration: World and Russian Trends. Vysshee obrazovaniye v Rossii [Higher Education in Russia]. No. 2: 106–113 (In Russ.).

Ledeneva L., Nekipelova E. (2003) Migration Intentions of Elite Academic Youth. In: Population and Society. Moscow: Tsentr demografii i ekologii cheloveka Instituta narodokhozyajstvennogo prognozirovaniya RAN. URL: (accessed 04.07.2018). (In Russ.)

Massey D.S., Arango J., Hugo G., Kouaouci A., Pellegrino A., Taylor J.E. (1993) Theories of International Migration: A Review and Appraisal. Population and Development Review. Vol. 19. No. 3: 431–466.

Meyer J.B. (2001). Network Approach versus Brain Drain: Lessons from the Diaspora. International Migration. Vol. 39. Iss. 5: 91–110.

Mohrman K., Ma W., Baker D. (2008) The Research University in Transition: The Emerging Global Model. Higher Education Policy. Vol. 21. Iss. 1: 5–27.

Vertovec S. (2002) Transnational Networks and Skilled Labor Migration. University of Oxford: Transnational Communities Program.

Vorobyova O.D., Grebenyuk А.А. (2016) Emigration from Russia at the End of XX – Beginning of XXI Century. Moscow: Civic Initiatives Committee. (In Russ.)

Content No 2, 2019