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Brain drain in higher education

Every year Pakistani teachers go abroad for higher education and research. Those who complete PhD from America, Germany, France and other countries on scholarship, many of them, either don’t wish to come back or they remain unable to re-adjust in Pakistan. Before going abroad they sign some agreements with their parent universities, as well as with HEC and the funding organisations, regarding their return to the country and help improve the system upon their return.

It takes them one to two years to adjust in the foreign environment and culture. When they spend four years or more and develop a new lifestyle, with a few exceptions, many are attracted and influenced to prolong their stay abroad.  An opportunity to earn more economically and live a healthy and good life are key attractions. Many apply for leave extensions, however, the agreements they had signed with the HEC, and funding agencies make them bound to return ultimately.

When they come back to their parent universities, they have to encounter the same people, same politics, culture of leg-pulling, habit of resistance and all such odds. Most of the teachers upon their return remain unable to adjust. It is a general perception that most people, before their re-adjustment, start blaming the system and remain in search of an escape. They ignore that fact that it took them one to two years to adjust in the foreign culture and environment, and now they once again need some time to re-adjust in their own university and native culture.

On the other hand, people here expect much from them. Local teachers demand high-level contribution and service delivery, the vision with which they were sent abroad. The vision was to change the system utilizing the expertise they acquired in a developed country. When a foreign returned scholar start blaming the system instead of taking corrective measures, the situation is also embarrassing for the local culture and people.

Both the sides need to understand the impact and clash of culture. The foreign return scholars must take it as their national duty to help improve the system gradually at a par with the expectations and very spirit of scholarships or the faculty development programme objectives. On the other hand, local university and departments’ administration must give proper time to such scholars to re-adjust in the environment.

Unfortunately, in many cases Pakistani universities remain unable to benefit from these scholars due to multiple reasons. The government, HEC and universities must provide such scholars with an enabling environment and utilise their potential to the maximum. Otherwise many such scholars will remain unable to adjust and many of them will remain in US and other countries mentally, despite being physically here. If not properly handled, one day after completing their formality of agreements they will return to some county in the developed world, causing a serious loss to the country – and this is actually happening.

Hence, scholarships and faculty development programmes indirectly serve as a source of brain drain. HEC and our universities need to focus on this crucial issue where at the time of enjoying the fruit of long investment of talent, time and money, we are on the losing end. Now many PhD scholars of HEC are returning to Pakistan, therefore its right time to take corrective measures to avoid wasting the talented scholars – the brain drain.

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