From education to employment

Education Unions NATFHE and AUT Hold Brain Drain Conference in London

The continued migration of experienced and brilliant lecturers from less developed sub-Saharan countries of Africa to the UK and other developed parts of the world will have grave effects on the poor countries if something is not done to compensate them, UK lecturers” unions NATFHE and AUT have warned.

Such international migration, in spite of the obvious gains for the host countries” education system, some African lecturers argue, would seriously weaken the system in the home countries of the migrating academics. And they have come up with the idea of brainstorming to determine how to stop the system from collapsing as the flow continues. But NATFHE and AUT say their loss must be compensated, even as they support the migration.

The Theme of the Day

To establish a means by which the devastating consequences of such brain drain can be avoided, the lecturers” unions are hosting a talk at NATFHE’s conference center in London tomorrow. Under the title: “Brain Drain in a globalised world”, experts will look into the possible means by which both sides would reap the benefits of the international flow of lecturers.

Speaking on the effects of brain drain on the home countries, a national official of NATFHE, Paul Bennett, says the migrating lecturers are welcome and the universities benefit immensely. But a lack of balance in the relationship could seriously affect the home countries of the lecturers. “We want the government to compensate those exporter countries and help them to build up their own higher education systems”, he suggests.

Warning that the migration of a large number of university lecturers from poor countries to rich ones could lead to the entire collapse of the academic base of the exporting countries, the assistant secretary general of AUT Brian Everett says the benefits need to be shared fairly. He says that there is also a need to empower their university so as to help them cope, assisting them in developing their higher education capacity, which is among other long-term benefit they can be helped to develop.

Other Themes

Other issues the conference hopes to achieve include studying the finding of a joint union project, and looking at ideas for policies and mitigating actions that British trade unions, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), universities and governments can implement. The migration of professionals, particularly university lecturers from sub-Saharan Africa, is major problem threatening the entire system of education in the region. Nearly 30 % of them have migrated to other greener parts of the world. Furthermore, roughly 50,000 PhD holders from the region, research suggests, live and work in developed countries.

Although the call for compensation dominates the conference agenda for tomorrow, there remains the need to look into the factors responsible for such a brain drain. The question of welfare packages for them is worth pondering on. The people who move are generally poorly paid and rarely have enough funding for research, the politicians milk the economy even though most of them are often minimally educated.

Musa Aliyu

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