Africa’s Best & Brightest Leave at Alarming Rate

Ahead of my fall sojourn to Zimbabwe to discuss the role that career services can play in preparing universities to better advise students, this post is quite sobering: http://www.universityworldnews.com/article.php?story=201205291517447le68&query=okereke.  It cites a World Bank study showing that between 1991 and 2010, the number of students enrolled in higher education rose annually at a rate of 16% – from 2.7 million to almost 13 million.  Yet public expenditure on higher ed grew only by 6% in this same period.  The author, Dr. Chukwumerije Okereke, states: “…unless drastic action is taken, most African economies will not be able to produce young people with the requisite technical knowledge and skills to sustain their economic growth.”  He goes on to say that in lieu of being able to fill jobs with their own skilled and well trained students, that “Africa spends about $4billion annually to recruit and pay well over 100,000 expatriates to work on the continent…”  Why?  Okereke states that 20,000 professionals leave Africa annually  — and here he points a finger st UK universities [where he lives and teaches] which “propelled by the need to increase their international profile and find money to plug the gap from falling budgets, have invented schemes to entice some of the best brains in Africa.”  Sound familiar to U.S. readers? While I certainly do not see U.S. institutions targeting specific countries in the developing world [in the case of China, the country’s families are speaking through their checkbooks], there is a link between increasing globalization of the higher education market, brain drain and economic development.  On this point, Okereke states that only “one of every three students who travel abroad for studies returns to Africa…while Africa increasingly relies on Chinese expatriates for its own development.”

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