5 MAY 1967, Page 26

Brain drain

Sir: Why all Ihis fuss about America poaching on our physicians and surgeons after they have been trained at our expense in the medical faculties of our universities? Is not, as it Were, America our first son, born in the seventeenth century 'after Cromwell had defeated the Royalists, many of whom crossed the Atlantic and established themselves in America to practise their English form of life? Does not our history tell us that the civil war in America in 1776 was a repetition of the civil war in England? Does an Englishman ever feel he is in a foreign country when in the us? Is this feeling of being at home not confirmed when he crosses the border, which is unfortified, into Canada, a younger son of the British family? Is this demand for the higher-qualified scholars not a tribute to our universities? Surely the Americans, who have inherited our tradition, are seeking to preserve it, if not improve that heritage. At the moment Canada and Australia are seeking to preserve their character as members of the same family. As they are worried because of the reduction in the number of British immigrants, they are building houses to accommodate these immigrants when they arrive. America, on the other hand, offers a higher salary which is in keeping with the status of the scholar. Why do we not accept the Chinese scheme of life which, according to the Confucian philosophy, places the scholar first in the order of merit? Beneath him is the farmer, then the craftsman (who covers the arts), then the merchant, who exchanges what others have created, and last of all the soldier, who destroys what has been created.

Apart altogether from this laudable aim of the Chinese, which the Greeks copied and so gave the world the highest stand in intellectual achieve- ment, there is a practical point of view, from the emigration of our scholars to America. Many of them have realised the straitened circumstances in which their parents (scholars) in retirement are living, and promptly remitted an adequate sum to supplement the inadequate pension or super- annuation. In other words, the expenditure on their training in England has been a profitable investment. That, however, merely draws attention to the urgent demand for a much higher respect for scholarship, not with a view to individual profit, but with regard to our international reputation.