Thursday, December 08, 2005

Reversing The Wasting Away Of Brains?

... "Migration could, however, be made more efficient. Heikki Mattila, of the International Organisation for Migration's Budapest office, highlights “brain waste”: well educated migrants doing menial jobs because their qualifications are not recognised. Despite EU rules, this happens all too often. Tony Venables of European Citizen Action Service, a Brussels think-tank, argues that complex (and often illegal) barriers that such countries as France and Italy put in the way of migrants encourage abuse and bad practice.

For the countries that export brains, there are two big challenges. One is to consider why people are leaving. Low pay in the public sector is one reason; rigid or corrupt institutions may be another....

The second task is to make returning home a case of “when” rather than “if”, by removing bureaucratic obstacles and maintaining ties between diasporas and the homeland. The authorities in Vilnius hope that sponsoring new Lithuanian-language schools in places like Dublin will remove a barrier for émigré families who are considering returning: keeping children's language skills honed makes parents less worried about disrupting their education if they go back.

For money isn't everything. Mantas Adomenas, a star Lithuanian classical scholar, studied at Oxford and Cambridge in the 1990s, writing a doctorate on “Plato's reception of the pre-Socratic philosophers”. But after eight years as a Cambridge don, he went home, taking a 75% pay cut to teach at Vilnius University and campaign against corruption. His friends, he says, chide him as a big fish in a small pond. He responds by quoting Plutarch, who 20 centuries ago refused to join the brain drain to Athens "lest my small city should become even smaller.""

"European migration: The brain-drain cycle" The Economist December 8, 2005.

Lviv Polytechnic University, 2005; one of Lviv, Ukraine's two major universities.

For image of Lviv Polytechnic University, ca. 1905, please see:

Photo credit: FIG International Federation of Surveyors


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