Migration is not a new phenomenon, as people have moved constantly from one country to another country as a result of various reasons. However, there can be many different effects this may cause on the African continent; and it might also as well have a harmful impact on the current development process that the region is experiencing (ILO, 2009). According to (Davis, 1974) in Massey et al.., the topic migration is as old as humanity itself and people have been migrating to different parts of the world for various motives with the aim of improving their standard of living (Davis, 1974 in Massy et al 2008, Pg : 1).
There has also been an increase debate gaining grounds on international migration and development and giving a significant attention by policy makers and researchers as migratory flows have grown in large scale and complexity with mutual development impacts and benefits for both the sending and receiving countries involved. Although, this debate may have both optimistic view (migration leads to development) and a pessimistic view (migration does not boost development) perception as Skeldon (1997), and Brettell and Hollifield (2008), argue that migration has both positive and negative impacts on both the sending and receiving countries. However, while people in developing countries migrate for different reasons which may involve to seek ‘better life’ for themselves and their families back home, the developed or countries of destination on the other hand gain cheap ‘unskilled and semi-skilled’ labor.
However, there has been an increase in the number of international migrants over the past 10 years from an estimated 150 million in year 2000 to 214 million today according to the ‘International Organization for Migration (IOM), (2011)’. This increase flow is not unrelated to global processes as stated by Castle and Miller (2009), that international migration in turn, is a central dynamic within globalization (Ibid: 3). Nonetheless, this is as a result of globalization which has come as a result of recent political, cultural as well as development of new transportation and communication technologies (Ibid), has immensely eased labor and capital mobility all over the world.
According to Massey et al.., (1998), they talked about migration undermining the prospect of local economy development and yield a state of stagnation and dependency (Massey et al, 1998: 272). The impacts of migration on human development cannot be over emphasized when we talk about its effects on remittances, job employment, increase in income and wages and also, in the case of dependency. According to HDR 2009 report, mobility increases human development if and only if it’s a voluntary mobility by providing higher income and opportunities to individuals and their families. However, according to the opinions of some scholars, it is viewed that migration can be of help to human development and also the growth of human capital, but not a replacement to development which could be true but at the same time, much has been written in different literatures where migration is often regarded as an important part of development especially in the sending countries, thus migration affects not only the migrants themselves but also the sending and receiving societies as a whole.
Different analyses of the effect of skilled migration on economic growth have been carried out by various scholars. Wong and Yip (1999) analyze the effect of brain drain on growth, education, income distribution and welfare. Schiff and Wang (2006) carry out an empirical analysis of the impact of brain drain on the productivity growth of countries. Beine et al. (2008) analyze the effects of the prospect of skilled migration on gross human capital formation in the source country. The results present different effect of the brain drain. While most theoretical studies illustrate a negative effect on growth, more recent empirical studies emphasized a positive effect on human capital formation in the source country. Either way, the brain drain has an unquestionable impact on the development process of a country.
Apart from economic and war driven migrants ‘refugees’; there is another group of migrants which are students from different parts of the African continent in search of better education abroad. According to Adepoju 2004, the migration of Africans into Europe and America can be traced back to the 1960s, when large number of Africans migrated, engaging in a record expansion of access to education across Europe and America (Adepoju, 2004).
As mentioned earlier in this paper, the increasing movement of people from the African continent into other parts of the world has been credited to globalization by researchers. Africa in general has not been left out in the globalization trend; as it has experienced an increase in mass migration of people into other parts of the world due to many reasons. However, a great number of these migrants from Africa are mostly students who are seeking to get better education outside their country of origin; and my research intends to focus on African students studying in the southern part of Sweden. Students that are leaving Africa to other parts of the world are often young and vibrant adults in their middle age and this group of people can be very useful in the development of the continent as regards to the much needed manpower (Tebeja, 2002). However, a large number of these people migrating from Africa to other parts of the world often have studied before and have acquired a degree from previous studies at a university back in their home country. Furthermore, as they migrate out of Africa, the African continent suffers a high loss of large amount of its future labor-force as well as its human capital.
International students from various countries of the world form a large population of students in the different universities in Sweden and also part of southern Sweden where this research was done. In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of students from different parts of the world coming to Sweden for studies. African students are not left out and they make up a fraction of these international students in different Universities in the Southern part of Sweden. These students all come from various parts of the African continent; and they usually consist of young adults with previous educational qualification such as high school diploma or university degrees and they always have an ambition in furthering their education here in Sweden .
However, the brain drain phenomenon is seen and considered to be problematic for Africa; in the sense that the educational qualification of individuals that are leaving the African continent to other parts of the world is sometimes high and majority of these individuals leaving subsequently don’t want to return back to their country of origin afterwards. The brain drain phenomenon has made many countries in Africa to have shortage in skilled individuals who are needed to meet the challenges of development in the twenty first century (El-Khawas, 2004, Pg: 37). Furthermore, the brain drain phenomenon can be categorized into two different sections. On one side are those individuals that have fully completed their education in Africa and afterwards decides to migrate to another part of the world due to various reasons. These individuals migrating may consist of health professional, engineers, scientist and entrepreneurs. Another are students who are studying abroad and afterwards find jobs, start a family and later become permanent residents or citizens of their host country (Shinn, 2008).
There is no actual correct data on brain drain in Africa and the few ones that are available are very scarce and they are inconsistent too. However, the statistic that are available shows a continent that is losing the individuals it needs most for economic, scientific, technological and social progress (Tebeje, 2002). According to reports published by the African Capacity Building Foundation, It stated that countries in Africa are approximately losing 20,000 of its skilled and qualified personnel every year to developed countries. The level of brain drain is huge, as some research have shown that nearly 10 tertiary educated adults that have some university or post secondary qualification and born in the developing world now live in the developed world (Sriskandarajaah D, 2005 ).
Africa as a continent has experienced a high number in migration; and this is not only to Europe but also to other parts of the world. As previously mentioned earlier, a large number of these migrants include students who are in search of better education outside their country of origin. According to the United Nations, it estimated that about 3 percent of the world’s population (191 million people) now lived in a country other than their original country of birth, with 33 percent of them having moved from a developing country into a developed country (Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare, 2007). As earlier mentioned, some of these statistics of migrant include students from the continent of Africa in search of education abroad, and this paper intends focusing on that category of individuals.
However, El-Khawas 2004, noted that new tools such as internets, cellular phones and multimedia have made it easy for people to be more connected and it has also extended the search for employment beyond national boundaries (El-Khawas, 2004, Pg: 39). Hence, this is also the same for African students who obtain information online about possible admission place abroad; and this has been made easy through the help of internet service availability in most countries in Africa. With this development, it can be said to have contributed to the brain drain phenomenon that the African continent is currently facing today, with many of the African students obtaining their information through the internet about ongoing admission processes and how/when to apply for admission to different universities in Sweden. Also, with the help of the internet, it is now possible for these students to make their application for visa and residence permit online, making it easy for applicant to access.
1.2 Aim and Research Questions
The general objective of this thesis is to try to contribute to the previous knowledge of the brain drain trend. This study will try to focus on the primary respondents as a way of getting to know more about the specific reasons why some students studying abroad choose to remain in their destination country ‘Sweden’ after their studies either for a short period of time or for many years after they complete their education. Furthermore, based on the importance of human capital for the development of a country and under the consideration of the high number of professionals in countries other than their country of origin, it is important to consider the motives behind their decisions to want to remain abroad or to return home. However, based on a research in 1987, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) presented it findings of a multinational comparative survey of professionals from developing countries who were studying abroad. Hence, the central aim of this investigation was to find out the reasons behind the decision to return home or to remain abroad (Glaser, W., 1978).
Similar to this investigation, the purpose of the present study is to analyze the incentives of international African students, both masters and bachelors students to return home or to remain abroad after completing their education in Sweden. Through the analysis of these incentives it is possible to get a better understanding of the present factors influencing the decisions of skilled individuals to return back home or to remain abroad. With the help of a theoretical foundation, it is possible to draw some conclusions that could be helpful in order to attract highly qualified individuals back home and thereby minimize the effects of the brain drain through an increased return migration.
In other to deal with the research problem, this study focuses on the following research questions:
What are the main factors that make people to migration and subsequently brain drain?
What are the specific reasons why majority of the students who study abroad choose to remain in their destination countries after their studies?
Are there any potential factors that might attract more African students to return back to their home countries after completing their education abroad?
The study of migration and brain drain and its effects on Africa is really important because this trend can affect its development in any form. Skilled manpower labor is a valuable asset for any nation in development process. However, this manpower is gradually disappearing from the continent into other parts of the world; and although some amount of mobility is obviously necessary if African countries are to integrate into the global economy; but the migration of huge numbers of students and skilled individuals pose a threat of a (brain drain) which can affect growth and development (ILO, 2009).
However, this research is important because first, it tries to contribute to the current research that is on brain drain phenomenon and by using interviews and other materials to get first hand information from these migrating students in order to understand the reasons why most of them have chosen to stay in Europe after they have completed their education. It has also created a medium through which possible solutions to the brain drain phenomenon can be achieved, by making us to understand what can be done in order for many of these immigrants students to return back to their country of origin and help in the socio-economic development of their various countries. Another importance is that it tries to see if there might be any possible benefits as a result of the new knowledge that has been acquired by these migrants students in their destination countries.
1.4 Migration and Brain Drain Facts
It could be said that the Africa continent as well as other developing countries are (subsidizing) the OECD countries due to the movement of graduate students and highly trained personnel such as engineers, doctors, nurses and paramedics. Ironically, it is assumed that most of the money spent on training these people are sent back as aid from the developed countries. However, it is calculated that US$40,000 is approximately the cost that is required in training a doctor in Kenya, and US$15,000 for a university student (Tebeje, 2002). Consequently, according to the International Development Research Center (IDRC), ‘35% of Africa’s official development assistance is spent on recruiting expatriates; although there are over 300,000 professionals who are Africans residing outside the continent’ (IDRC, 2002).
The migration of highly skilled Africans from the continent of Africa to other parts of the world has left many countries in Africa to be short of skills to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century. Hence, it is believed that the brain drain trend began in Africa just after the independence of many countries in Africa and it has continued over the years. According to Wusu 2006, the number of Africans heading out of the continent was initially small during the 1960s, although this later increased due to the deteriorating state of the social, political and economical conditions of their various countries. ‘It is estimated that around 27,000 highly educated Africans migrated to developed countries between 1960 and 1975; and migration increased to around 40,000 annually during the following decade. This number increased at about 80,000 in 1987, but has leveled down to about 20,000 a year since 1990’ (Wusu, 2006, Pg: 91-92).
1.5 Disposition of Thesis
The research design in this study is qualitative. ”Qualitative methods include a variety of techniques, from participant observation and writing of ethnography, to semi-structured interviews, oral histories and group discussions” (Scheyvens and Storey, 1999: 57). The application of qualitative methods seeks to understand the world and interpret the perception of its actors, collect data in natural settings and generate theory thereby providing powerful insights into the world (Bryman & Burgess, 1999 in Scheyvens and Storey, 2003). Unlike quantitative methods which are more deductive in nature- testing of theories-, qualitative research is more inductive – building up theory from observations-, and the researcher begins with an open mind and a few preconceptions as possible allowing theory to emerge from the data (Znaniecki, 1934, in O’Reilly, 2009).
Qualitative research is used to reveal motivational aspects on either the behavior of a group of respondents, or their expectations. Qualitative research has an unstandardized character; its aim is to study a wide range of objects manifestations and do not always track its quantitative regularities but rather are oriented at revealing the causalities. Among so many advantages, this method allows free expression of respondents which helps to reveal their inherent values and feelings, stimulates their creative potential (SOCIS, 2008). Qualitative methods allow the understanding of people, behaviors, and perceptions among others. This substantiates the reasons for applying this method for this study as it deals with the perceptions of migrant African students in southern Sweden on migration and brain drain. Furthermore, Scheyvens and Storey, (2003) maintain that questions such as ‘what do/is’, ‘how can/do’, ‘why is/ does’ can best be answered by using qualitative methods and these are the type of questions posed in this study.
Contrary to quantitative research that aims primarily at precise measurement of predetermined hypothesis, qualitative research takes a more holistic understanding of complex realities and processes and still leads to the emergence of questions and hypothesis cumulatively as the investigation progresses (Dessai and Potter, 2006: 117-118). In the same line, I chose this research design to investigate and understand the perceptions of African students in southern Sweden on migration and brain drain. This corresponds with the view of (ibid) that qualitative methods typically focus on compiling a selection of micro-level case studies which are being investigated.
2.2 Case Study
In order to get a detailed explanation of the issue under study, a case study is important as it enables the researcher to ask detail questions in a way that he/she will obtain answers to question (s); as Flick, (2009:134) asserts that ”case studies can capture the process under study in a very detailed and exact way”. According to Yin, (1984), ”a case study is an empirical inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context”. Case studies are important to suit the specific context as Dessai and Potter, (2006: 200-201) affirm that ”an in-depth research, taking the form of a case study, can play an important role in planning and carrying out a development project […] tailored to suit the local context”.
Furthermore, a case study helps researchers to carry out a specific /unique inquiry in order to get answers to their inquiries; just as Gomm et al., (2006: 1-3) affirm that the term ”case study’ is employed to identify a specific form of inquiry […] and usually, it investigates a few cases in considerable depth […] constructing cases out of naturally occurring social situations”. Their definition is similar to that of O’Reilly, (2009) who says ”a case study investigates a few, or often just one case, in considerable depth” (ibid: 23). Migration and brain drain are contemporary phenomena that have attracted great attention across academia and in order to generate much information about this issue, case studies become imperative to obtain different experiences from migrants. Therefore, my research strategy is based on a case study. This is the case of African students living in southern Sweden who are still studying or have completed their studies and still living in Sweden.
As a research strategy, the case study is being used in many situations to contribute to our knowledge of individuals, groups, organizational, social, political and related phenomena. ”Generally, case studies are the preferred method when (a)’how’ or ‘why’ questions are being posed, (b) when the investigator has little control over events, and (c) when the focus is of a contemporary phenomenon within a real-life context” (Yin, 2009: 2). In this study, some parts of the research questions also contain ‘how’ and ‘why’. Hence, the use of case study becomes inevitable in order to explore/probe into the topic under study.
It is however also argued that case studies can lead to generalization. Nonetheless, Flick, (2009) suggest a solution to this problem of generalization by saying that a series of case studies of the same issue under study can be conducted even though it is time consuming and command more resources. In the same line, Stake, (1994) suggests that knowledge from case studies leads to what he calls ”’naturalistic generalization’ which develops within a person as a product of experience [‘] how things are, why they are, how people feel about them, and how these things are likely to be better later or in other places with which this person is familiar ” (ibid: 1994, in Gomm et al., 2006: 22).
Besides, according to Flick, (2009), the aim of case studies is to carry out an in-depth of the phenomenon and not to make generalizations. Similarly, it is not expected that findings from this study will be used to make generalizations about all migrants at large or to African students from other parts of Sweden and in different parts of the world. Therefore, focus on the case study for this research aims at an in-depth investigation on informants’ perceptions on migration and brain drain; and with major focus on African students studying in southern Sweden.
Most theoretical discussions about brain drain is not informed by this kind of research strategy which explores people’s perceptions and understanding about brain drain, hence, the result findings and analysis of this study will hopefully supplement other studies that have been carried out on this issue and probably pave way for further research from a broader perspective; just as Stake, (1994) notes that knowledge of qualitative case studies helps people to understand how things are and how they can be done better in other places.
According to Webster, (1985), a sample is a finite part of a statistical population whose properties are studied to gain information about the whole. Sampling ”involves the selection of cases from a broader set of choices such that the subset or sample chosen is in some way representative of the broader set or population” (O’Reilly, 2009: 194). It is the act, process, or technique of selecting a suitable sample, or a representative part of a population for the purpose of determining parameters or characteristics of the whole population (Team Cvoter, 2012).
The type of sampling technique employed in this study is purposive sampling and by snowballing which according to Denscombe, (2007), both sampling methods are compatible. While O’Reilly, (2009) maintains that purposive sampling ensures that all criteria of relevance are included (gender, age, ethnicity and social class background), Denscombe, (2007) asserts that in snowballing, the sample emerges through a process of reference from one person to the next and Bryman, (2008) also attests that in snowballing, the researcher makes initial contact with a small group of people […] and then uses these to establish contacts with others. In the same line, my contact with some group of Africa students got me connected with the next and the next. Ritchie and Lewis, (2003, in ibid) further explain that purposive sampling is chosen for a purpose; in order to access people, times and settings that are representative of given criteria.
More often, purposive sampling is considered in helping the researcher to select the ‘right’ informants with the ‘right’ information. The researcher ”makes a judgment on whom to include in the sample” (Scheyvens and Storey, 1999: 43); with ‘typical’ characteristics of the target population. In the same line, I select particularly those African students studying in southern Sweden who are also migrants in order to get their perception on migration and brain drain; their experiences and how it affects development.
2.4 Interviews- semi-structured
One of the qualitative research methods used in this study is interviews (semi-structured), as Olsen & Pederson, (2005) state that in qualitative research, interviews play an important role because in the conversation there is the potential for understanding changing viewpoints, signs and intentions. This type of interview takes the form where questions are prepared in advance and directed to the respondents (Halvorsen, 1992). Correspondingly, ”interviewing is the practitioner’s method ‘par excellence’ in development studies-qualitative interviews in particular” (Mikkelsen, 2005: 169). It generates information/data (COWI, 2004 in ibid). Interviews could be conducted with individuals or groups. For this study, an individual interview is employed which is undertaken with a sample of purposely selected respondents to obtain representative information (ibid: 172). Questions may be asked according to a flexible checklist or guide, and not from a formal questionnaire and this is semi-structured interview (ibid).
According to Dessai and Potter, (2006), semi-structured interviews follow a form of the interview schedule with suggested themes thereby not only providing the researcher with the opportunity to cover the areas he/she thinks are important, but there is scope for the interviewees to develop their responses by giving them room to bring up their own ideas and thoughts. By so doing, the respondents become comfortable with the flow of the conversation and can express their minds hence, a good chance for the interviewer to gain a detailed insight of the topic under research.
For this study, I designed a flexible interview guide with open questions that give room for spontaneous questions to be asked to the interviewee so that I can acquire a more detailed understanding of the perceptions they have on migration and brain drain. A brief introduction about my topic was made to the interviewee before going into the interview proper. The reason for the introduction was simply to create an awareness of what was to be discussed. In some cases, the interview sessions were recorded, but, this was done only with the consent of the interviewee. The rationale for this was to uphold and keep track of the originality of the message /data. The information gathered was then transcribed into text /excerpts for analysis.
Semi-structured interviews however have some limitations. The main limitation is how far the interviewers manage to make the procedure plausible to interviewees and deal with irritations, which may be caused by confrontational questions as put forward by Flick, (2009). Nevertheless, to solve this problem, Flick goes on to suggest that confrontational questions can be avoided. In this regard therefore, I avoided some confrontational questions to the interviewees that I thought could be irritating or make them feel uncomfortable. In some cases, I restructured/rephrased the question being posed.
The language of interview was mainly English; however I conducted some of the interviews in the respondent’s local languages (Pidgin English); this was mainly done with students from Nigeria and Cameroun because I can speak and understand these languages. This was a way to get much deeper answers from the respondents, and also to make the interview atmosphere much conducive for them to really communicate in an informal way. The interview time lasted from 45 minutes to 1 hour; depending on the location and how many people were present at the point of interview.
An instrument of approximately 22 questions served as a guide during my interview process; and this enabled me to keep track of the main research aim while conducting the interviews. The interview guide contained questions that were designed to gather information on various issues relating to migration and the brain drain phenomenon, as well as the motivating factors which made these specific students decide to stay in Sweden after their studies. 10 students were interviewed during the period of 3 weeks; and these respondents were also assured of the confidentiality of their responses, due to the fact that certain issues discussed were sensitive.
Although it was relatively easy to get informants, the greatest challenge with some of them was to explain that the information they will provide will be used for academic purpose only and identities remain anonymous. From this explanation, those who were skeptical from the onset (especially as the discussion deals with sensitive issues concerning their lives) became interested to take part in the study. Another problem I faced with the informants was keeping up with appointments, as some did not turn up as arranged or cancelled it, hence implying a rearrangement of new appointments. In addition, since most of the interview sessions took place at the homes of the respondents, the researcher also faced the problem of interruption with site comments on the topic from visitors who came to their homes. In situations like this, more time was spent explaining and even beg the ‘intruders’ not to say anything and in some cases, the location for the interview was changed.
Irrespective of the above challenges faced, everything was made possible to collect the data which was very vital for this study in order to answer the research questions, make analysis /discussions and draw conclusions thereafter. On my part, in protecting the identities of the informants, numbers were used instead of names in the findings / analysis / discussion.
3. Theoretical framework
3.1 Neoclassical Theories (push and pull theory)-
Migration plays an important role in the development of developing countries. ‘The inflow of capital through migrant remittances (the money migrants send home to their families and communities) could improve productivity and incomes’ (Massey et al., 1998, 223). Neo classical theory (push and pull theory) explains more on certain factors that are responsible for the movement of migrants such as differences in wages and job opportunities. Push factors such as lack of economic opportunities, low standard of education, low income wages, lack of land and political oppression. Pull factors on the other hand, are attracting factors which tend to attract migrants to specific receiving countries such as good social policy, demand for labor, good economic opportunities, standard educational system, land availability, political freedom, good health care and good income wages. ‘Neoclassical theory assumes that potential migrants have perfect knowledge of wage levels employments in the destination regions and that their migration decisions are overwhelmingly based on these economic factors’ (Castles and Miller 2009: 22). The main purpose of migration is mostly centered on building their human capital, migrants tend to build their human capital as much as they would like to invest in the education of their family members (Castle and Miller 2009; 22), ‘workers in the primary labor market are positively selected on the basis of human capital’ (Castles and Miller 2009, 23). When they are able to improve their human capital they are able to get better paying jobs in other to send remittances back home (country of origin). According to this theory, it explains migration on the macro and micro level, With Massey et al (1998) explaining that the differences in wages causes workers from low wage or labor surplus country to migrate to high wage or labor scarce country (Massey et al. 1998: 18). However, the neoclassical theory classified the wage differences between two countries as the macro level. For the micro level, the neoclassical theory explains that individuals decides to migrate irrespective of the wage difference because they think that they can be more productive and maximize their wellbeing or skills in another country than their country of origin (Massey et al. 1998: 19) Furthermore, intended migrants try to compare the cost benefit for migration to what they will get in return ‘monetary benefits’. In this case, migrants migrate to well develop countries where they know their investment capital in migrating will be gainful in the long run (Massey et al, 1998, 19). Most of these countries possess good economy, well functioning social system and good job opportunities
3.2 Social Capital Theory-
The social capital theory explains that it is not often only the migrants decision to migrate but also with the help of network of people such as family members, friends and even societies. Social capital theory attempt to explain further that migration is initiated between ties in receiving countries and countries of origin. New migrants receives help or guidance from existing migrants in the form of information on how to go about migration, finding jobs, accommodation and also this can be in the form of remittances too. According to (Massey et al 1998, 42) ‘migrant network are ties that connect migrants, former migrants, and non migrants in origin and destination area through ties of kinship, friendship and shared community origin’. This form of connection increases the likelihood of international migration because information reduces the costs and risks of migration and increases the net returns (Massey et al 1998, 42 -43). The first migrant who migrates to the receiving country, normally has no link or contact to any social tie to get information from and this makes migration very expensive, and also if this involves entering another country without legal documents. According to Massey, social ties make international migration extremely attractive as a strategy for risk diversification and utility maximization (Massey et al, 1998, 43). However, a well establish social network not only makes migration easy for family members and friends to migrate, it also makes it reliable and secure at a reduced cost. With this social network, every new migrant increases the network and then reduces the risk of migration for all those he or she is having contact with, which in the long run makes it risk free and less expensive to diversify household labor allocation through emigration (Massey et al, 1998, 43).
In this section, the (push and pull factors) that are responsible for the migration of Africans and African students in particular will be analyzed. The push and pull factors will help us to understand in broad terms the reasons to why and how African students as well as other migrants from Africa have decided to migrate and then decides to remain in their host country after a certain period. However, the responds from the interviews for this thesis will give an empirical evidence, reasons and understanding to why these students have decided to leave their country of origin and then decide to stay back in their host country (Sweden) after the completion of their studies.
4.1 The Push and Pull Factors
The main reasons for brain drain can generally be understood when we take a look at the push and pull factors. According to Shinn 2008, it is ascertained that these complex push and pull factors is said to determine the severity of the brain drain and migration for any particular country in Africa (Shinn, 2008). The pull factor can be described as those favorable conditions in the receiving countries that attract many migrants from Africa and which makes them to decide to migrate in the first place. Most of these favorable conditions includes among others, higher standard of living, higher salaries, good social welfare system, safety of environment and less bureaucratic control. On the other hand, the push factors can be describe as those unfavorable conditions in Africa which instigate these people to migrate into other parts of the world. These conditions include poor education system, less job opportunities, low wages, arm conflict and political instability (El-Khawas, 2004, 39). Although the impact of push factors can vary from country to country in Africa; in the sense that the push factors impacts negatively on countries like DRC, Sudan and Somalia because of the conflict and political instability than they are by economic concerns. However, other much more stable countries like Burkina Faso, Ghana and Zambia are faced with economic push factors (Shinn, 2008).
4.2 The Push Factors
‘ Poor education
‘ Less job opportunities
‘ Low wages
‘ Arm conflict
‘ Political instability
The number of economy issues in a country can be connected to the reasons why its citizens (highly skilled people) would like to migrate. As the living conditions in a country decline, many of these professionals as well as students tend to look for opportunities in other parts of the world. A country with a weak economy, high unemployment rate and high rate of corruption, low salary rates, and a high level of poverty within its society is prone to the brain drain phenomenon. On the other hand, when the unemployment level is high in the society, the future graduates as well as students tend to look for opportunities elsewhere. However, the political situation in many countries can also be seen as a contributing factor to the emigration of many citizens, as well as contributing also to the decisions of many students to leave for studies abroad. The Red Terror in Ethiopia, genocide in Rwanda, and the civil war in DRC are a few examples within many of the conflicts in Africa that is associated with political and security issues in Africa (Shinn, 2008). The poor human rights practices, absence of academic freedom and illegal regime changes in many of these Africa countries also contributes to the increase in the level of brain drain.
Low wages is another factor that often makes people to migrate. The low wages that professionals often earn are seen as major reasons for brain drain. For example, in Kenya, medical graduates earn an average of about 1,000 USD per month. While in some developed countries, they could receive a salary as high as 14,000 USD monthly. In few other Africa countries other than Kenya, physicians earn as low as 100 USD per month this difference in salary has a major effect in making professionals abandon their jobs in Africa and migrate to other parts of the world where they can make more money and earn higher wages for the same jobs (Shinn, 2008).
A related concern to the educational environment is the lack of professional opportunities that is lacking in majority of these countries in Africa, and this contributes to making students as well as other highly trained professionals decide to migrate to other parts of the world. The lack of research and training facilities, morale and job satisfaction, and human resources management policies, is another area that contributes mostly to the brain drain of student from developing continent such as Africa into developed world such as Europe. The relationship between the government and the universities in Africa is also very hostile. The governments are mostly in control of the universities, and their tight control makes the university administration have a minimal involvement in the education policies. According to Chimanikire, 2002, ‘Most Sub-Saharan Africa do not have particularly friendly working environments, strong budgets, clear policies or generous research funds and there is often no national policy for or even little investment in science and technology’ (Chimanikire, 2002, Pg: 12).
4.3 The Pull Factors
‘ High standard of living
‘ High standard of education
‘ High salaries
‘ Safety of environment
‘ Less bureaucratic control
‘ Policies encouraging migration
The pull factors which attracts and contributes to the brain drain phenomenon is mostly seen as the opposite of the push factors. Most of the reasons that make students as well as professionals to decide to migrate from their countries are mainly due to the push factors listed above previously. When the economy is weak and income of professionals are low in the countries were skilled individuals are lost, it is seen that the economy of the receiving countries are often stronger and income higher. However, due to the strong economic condition in Europe, North America and the Gulf, these places are the most likely destinations for many skilled individuals as well as students from the African continent. South Africa and Botswana are exceptions to some extent due to their stronger economy in Africa; though they also lose a large numbers of professionals and students annually to the developed countries in Europe and North America (Chimanikire, 2002, Pg: 13).
Together with the higher standard of living, strong economy and peaceful political atmosphere that attracts many of these skilled personnel as well as students into Europe and America, there is another important pull factor that can be attributed to contributing to the brain drain within the Africa continent and developing countries in particular, is the possibility of improving professionally in these developed countries. The level of career development and job mobility is high, and more attention is put on human resource policies, supervision and training. For the universities, they are well equipped with necessary facilities for education, including full access to the internet and current books in the library. Also, research funds and scholarships are available in the developed countries; and there are generally fewer bureaucratic controls in the developed countries not like the developing world (Shinn, 2008). Furthermore, according to a research which was done in 2003 and supported by the European Commission, it concluded that the access to technology and scientific equipment is one of the main factors which is influencing the mobility of researcher and as a consequence, this leads to brain drain (Time Higher Education, 2003).
However, the immigration policies in several developed countries can be considered as a pull factor which attracts professionals from developing countries. Germany, France and the United State with many other developed countries have put up immigration policies in place that encourage the brain drain phenomenon (Shinn, 2008). The United States offers employment-based immigrant visas which is divided into five categories. A special part of this program is mainly focused on attracting people of extra ordinary ability in the field of sciences, arts, education, business and athletics. In 2007, the United States admitted 162,000 people under this program worldwide and the largest groups came from China, India, and the Philippine. Around 4,300 Africans were admitted into the US under this program. Furthermore, some highly developed countries have actively turned to the developing countries in recruiting skilled workers in various categories, such as doctors and nurses. According to Shinn 2008, ”Canada, Australia and some members of the European Union have used this method to recruit skilled workers from Sub-Saharan Africa. Senegal and Tanzania have lost high numbers of primary and secondary school teachers to some European countries due to this effort” (Shinn, 2008)
The United States has a Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, which is intended to encourage the immigration of historically underrepresented nationalities into the United States and thereafter become citizens. This program is also known as the green card lottery and applicants must have a high school education or the equivalent in order to qualify for this program; the annual worldwide D.V quota is 50,000 immigrants (US Department of State). In 2007, 42,000 immigrants travelled into the United States under this program, and more than 19,000 Africans were admitted during the 2007 program. Egypt had the highest number, followed by Ethiopia, Nigeria, Morocco, Kenya, and Ghana (Shinn, 2008).
4.4 Push and pull factors of students from Africa to Sweden
Just as students continue to contribute to the increasing number of migrants from African countries into other parts of the world, there is also a certain portion of students that decides to stay in their countries of destination after the conclusion of their studies. However, it is important to note that the factors behind migration and afterwards permanently residing in Sweden differ from country to country in Africa. The state of economic development, geographical position and the cultural settings, all play an important role in making the decision process of these students during and after their study period here in Sweden. An example of these are students that are coming from politically unstable countries, oppression in various forms and high rate of corruption; there is every possibility that these students are more likely to remain in Sweden after their studies due to the situation in their countries of origin. These push factors for them might be different from the students that are coming from countries which might be partially stable politically, but still have some economic push factors. Furthermore, the push factor can also be considered as playing a larger role on why these students have decided to leave their country in exchange for a life in Sweden because many of them actually did not know much about Sweden before coming; but they just had the notion that the life in Europe would be far-more better than the one they had back in Africa, and the opportunities they stand to gain here is Sweden would be more than that in Africa.
As I discussed with the various students from Africa, it was possible to notice many of the push and pull factors that made them decide to come to Sweden for their studies in the first place. However, these factors can also go a long way in affecting their decision making process on whether to return to their home countries after the completion of their studies, or choose to remain in Sweden and try to start a new life. The push factor plays a huge role in this process of decision making; and this is because many African students that are leaving low economic countries or politically unstable countries are often captured by the opportunities that they hope to achieve here in Sweden, rather than returning to Africa were the hope of having such opportunities are often very low.
According to the interviewed students from Africa, they made mention of most of the push and pull factors that were listed in this thesis and how it influenced their decision to come to Sweden for their studies, and later made up their mind to stay in Sweden after the completion of their education. Majority of the students in (Lund, Malm??, V??xj?? and Kalskrona University) in the Sk??ne region are free movers. However, there are some exchange students who were interviewed that have already decided to remain in Sweden after their university program. Most of the push factors that were cited by the interviewed students which made them to come to Sweden for their studies were:-
4.4.1 Highlighting major push factors from interviewed students
a.) Underdevelopment and poor economic situation in their various countries.
Poor economic situation in many African countries today is expressed as one of the main reasons why Africans usually decides to migrate into Europe and other parts of the world. However, this factor is not different when looking at the situation of students from African countries that are moving abroad for their studies. Apart from the high standard of education and improved technology that attracts students from Africa to Sweden, the poor economic situation and underdevelopment is a major reason why they decide to leave Africa and eventually settle down in Sweden after their studies. According to interviewed student 1, he talked about the economic situation in his home country Ethiopia was not good, and the opportunities of getting a job is almost impossible for many graduates. He further stated that all these contributed to the reasons why he had to travel to Sweden (Interviewed student 1, 2014). The hope of a better life in Sweden is seen because of the good economic situation in Sweden and also they have a higher hope of getting a job when they come to Sweden, compared to when they stay back in Africa. According to Interviewed student 2, he stated that he does not intend to return to African after his education here in Sweden, but hope to look for jobs not only in Sweden but also other parts of the world and this is because he believes that the chances of getting a job in his home country is low due to the bad economic situation of his country (Interviewed student 2, 2014). The economic situation in Africa can be described as a contributing factor to the reasons why many students decide to stay and settle in Sweden after their studies.
b.) Unfavorable political system in many African nations.
The poor and unfavorable political condition in Africa is another reason that contributes to why students have decided to leave their various countries to other parts of the world. According to Shinn, 2008, he states that many political and security issues contribute to the decision of skilled Africans to move elsewhere (Shinn, 2008). Interviewed student 3, stated that the political system in his country (Ethiopia) as one of the main reasons that made him to decide to move to Sweden for his Masters studies. He explained further that because as a student, you can only study up to the bachelor’s level in Ethiopia and you have to be a member of the ruling political party before the person can continue on the master’s level (Interviewed student 3, 2014). The poor economic situation in African countries cannot be attributed alone to the reason why people decide to move to other parts of the world. The political systems in many African countries are weak and unstable. According to some students from these African countries, Nigeria, Cameroon, Ethiopia and Uganda, the political system in these countries are oppressive, full of corrupt leaders and dictators. A respondent from Cameroon actually referred to the political system in his home country as democratic on paper, but dictatorial in practice”, when asked why he thinks so, he further stated that the president of Cameroon has been in power for over 25 years, and he does not consider that as democratic (Interviewed student 4, 2014). Interviewed student 6 described the political system in his country as corrupt and that he does not see any future for the young Nigerians in the country, because the country is being ruled by the same groups of leaders for over three decades (Interviewed student 6, 2014).
Although the political situation in Africa may serve as a major push factor for African students moving into Sweden; however, a comparison between the political situation in many African countries and Sweden can contribute to the reasons why most of these students settle in Sweden after their education. This is because all the students that were interviewed saw the political system in Sweden as more democratic, open and free of corruption unlike their home countries. However, a few of the students highlighted the fact that they had little knowledge of how the Swedish political system is generally operated.
c.) Low possibility of employment and low salaries
Employment opportunities in Africa are considered to be difficult and this is another reason why majority of immigrant students would prefer to migrate and remain in Sweden after their studies. This aspect can be linked to the poor economic situation and underdevelopment in Africa which contributes to lack of jobs for university graduates. According to Interviewed student 5, she explained that she would rather remain in Sweden with an unskilled job than going back to Uganda after her education, and this was because she assumed that she would earn more money as a cleaner here in Sweden than a graduate in Uganda (Interviewed student 5, 2014). However, she explained further that she might eventually return to her home country to practice her profession, but that will be after she must have earned enough money in Sweden. Interviewed student 4, explained that he intends to remain in Sweden after his education, but might return to Ethiopia only when he does not find a job here in Sweden (Interviewed student, 4, 2014).
According to Shinn 2008, the differences in salary between someone working in a developed country and another person working the same job in Africa are huge (Shinn, 2008). So many students choose to search for jobs in Sweden, rather than returning to their home country. However, many students end up getting jobs that are not related to their field or even unskilled jobs. However, all the respondents complained about difficulties in getting a job back in Africa, even when they already have the qualification. About 50 percent of the respondents believe that the chances of getting a job might be higher, if they return to their home countries with a Swedish degree (Response from interviewed students, 2014). According to interviewed student 6, I decided to move to Sweden for my master’s studies when he couldn’t find a job with his undergraduate degree after many years when he graduated (Interviewed student 6, 2014).
d.) Conflict and civil wars
The conflicts and civil wars in Africa is one contributing factor which increases the migration of students and also skilled workers. The conflicts in Somalia, Rwanda, DRC, and Sierra Leone have led to the loss of many of its skilled labor as well as students (Shinn, 2008). When there is any civil unrest in a country, it affects the educational system as well, and this contributes to the reasons why students would choose to travel abroad for their studies. The power struggles in Africa which often creates violence is usually deadly. According to El-Khawas, 2004, it is estimated that around 7 million people lost their lives in Africa between 1960 and 1990 due to civil war and political violence (El-Khawas, 2004, Pg: 41). The 1990s have seen the number of wars and political violence doubled in Africa and has included countries such as Rwanda, DRC, Liberia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ivory Cost, Nigeria Somalia, Uganda etc. this armed conflicts often leads to the displacement of people and forced migration. An example of this is Sudan, which has lost many highly educated students because of the long civil war (El-Khawas, 2004, Pg: 42). According to interviewed student 7, the reason why he left his home country (DRC) to study in Sweden was because of the civil war going on there, and this has affected the educational system in the country whereby making many other students to sought for education in other parts of the world (Interviewed student 7, 2014).
4.4.2 Highlighting the major pull factors from interviewed students
a.) High standard of education in Sweden
The standard of education in Sweden is better when compared to countries in Africa, and students have more access to technology such as internet and computers. When discussing with all the respondents about the standard of education in Sweden compared to that of their home countries; they all concluded that the system of education in Sweden was more advanced than that of their home country. Majority of them said that the system of education in Sweden was more practical and with fewer students in the classrooms and compared to the theoretical approach in Africa, with a high number of students in classrooms. According to one of the interviewed students from Ghana, he believes that the standard of education in Sweden would enable students get jobs easily when compared to the education they get in Africa (Interviewed student 8, 2014). Another student from Uganda also pointed out that the Swedish system trains people to be job oriented, but the education they receive in Uganda is much more theoretical (Interviewed student 9, 2014).
b.) Information from other students
The information that students receive from friends and even family members that have already traveled to Sweden is an important pull attraction of African students to come to Sweden. This was visible while conducting majority of the interviews, as many of the students confirmed that they were informed about Sweden by either their friends or families that were already living in Sweden. According to interviews, this pull factor from Africans already living overseas also contribute to why many student remain in Sweden after their studies; and this is because of the advice that they receive from fellow migrants that have already taken that path. However, this form of pull factor can be linked to the social capital theory which explains that it is not often only the migrant’s decision to migrate but also with the help of network of people such as family members, friends and even societies. Social capital theory attempt to explain further that migration is initiated between ties in receiving countries and countries of origin. New migrants receives help or guidance from existing migrants in the form of information on how to go about migration, finding jobs, accommodation and also this can be in the form of remittances too (Massey et al 1998, 42).
c.) Easy access to Swedish study permit compare to other European countries
The process of obtaining a study permit to come to Sweden is less difficult compared to many other European countries; and this is considered to be another reason why many students from Africa choose to come to Sweden. According to many respondents; the system of obtaining a visa to come to Sweden did not demand that you make a deposit or pay some fees before applying for a student permit, so it was easier to apply for a Swedish permit than to apply for many other countries which requires the method of tuition deposits. However, you have to show a proof in terms of funds in your bank account to the Swedish immigration that you can survive when you are already living in Sweden (Response for interviewed students, 2014).
b) Free tuition in Swedish University system
The system of free tuition for all University students in Sweden irrespective of nationality has been a major pull attraction for the migration of many African students into Sweden. However, there has been a change in the free tuition system lately, whereby the Swedish government has introduced tuition fees for foreign students. In a bill to parliament, the government proposes that students from countries outside the European Union should pay tuition fees from the academic year 2011/2012. Until now, Sweden has been one of the few countries in Europe that has not charged any type of fees; all students regardless of country of origin have been funded by the taxpayers (Thelocal. Sweden’s news in English). However, during my interviews with the respondents, about 80 percent of them said that they were attracted to Sweden because of the free tuition system, and it also reduced their expenses compared to studying in places such as America, Canada and the United Kingdom. According to one of the respondents from Kenya, it was wiser and cheaper to study here in Sweden than the US because it is free here and you get almost similar degree certificate (Interviewed student 10, 2014).
This paper has seek to contribute to the research on the brain drain phenomenon going on in Africa; and it has also tried to bring to our knowledge the reasons why students decide to stay in their destination countries after they have completed their education. This research was done with the aim of focusing on the primary respondents ‘African students’, as a means of getting to know more about the specific reasons why many students choose to stay in Sweden either for a long or short period of time after they have completed their studies.
This paper has shown that there are several factors which lead to migration and subsequently brain drain in the African continent. The push and pull factors were used throughout this paper in order to understand the forces which makes people decide to migrate, and also the reasons why they decide to remain in their country of destination after completing their education. As have been discuss earlier in this paper, the poor governance, weak economies and lack of individual freedom are what contributes to the reasons why many students decide to leave their countries for a more developed world. However, the information gathered by this research shows that most African students would prefer to stay in Sweden after their studies, and return to their home countries after they have secured enough financial resources from any kind of jobs that they find, and also if the situations discussed in this paper earlier that made them to migrate in the first place changes for the better.
Furthermore, the push and pull factors which were used as a framework for this study was to a large extent similar to the ones provided by the interviewed students; however, this research has also shown that the information which African students receive from people already residing in Europe, contributes to the pull attraction which makes them decide to migrate to other part of the world and subsequently decide to remain in these countries of destination.
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