By Amaka Abayomi

A GROUP of education experts, consisting of Professors Olusola Oyewole, President, Association of African Universities, Ghana; Xie Tao, Professor of Political Science and Associate Dean, School of English and International Studies, Beijing Foreign Studies University, China; and Jo Beall, Director, Education and Society, British Council, has called for the improvement investments in higher education institutions to  help stem brain drain being experienced in some countries.

Speaking in a wide-ranging discussion on ‘Brain Drain: Can we stem the flow?’ for a special BBC World Service recording of The Forum at Going Global,  the British Council’s conference for leaders of international education, the panel of experts said we face a world where there is this absolutely ruthless competition for the brightest and best.

According to Prof Jo Beall, in a global, interconnected world, we can’t confine people, but there is a policy issue in terms of governments needing to invest in people.

For Prof Oyewole, efforts to improve higher education institutions will help to stem brain drain. In agreement is Beall, who said “if you don’t have investment in your higher education system or in the workplace to attract people to come home, then your country is more likely to be affected.”

Pointing out that China has witnessed some of the worst brain drain in modern countries, Prof Tao said “there are many problems and obstacles to China’s efforts to retain and attract talent. There are issues of food safety, environmental pollution and health issues, and all these things can discourage people from coming back to China to stay permanently.”

When asked what can help countries hold onto their best and brightest people stop  from going overseas, Beall said “if you look at countries like South Africa and China, both have, in the past, had draconian policies to try and stop people moving, and in both cases, it resulted into spectacular failure. In all, the panel agreed that ‘ties of belonging’ are what can bring people back. “In order to make people stay in a country and like the country, you have to have that sense of belonging which means identity, and identity is complicated”, they said.



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