Brain drain at African higher education institutions
Nabawanuka, Jaynefrances Walusimbi
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This study aims to deepen the understanding of the factors that influence Makerere University faculty who go for studies abroad to return or not to return to Makerere. Understanding all these factors is a key step in finding measures of not only minimizing brain drain caused by faculty not returning from overseas training programs, but also increasing brain circulation and brain gain from the African professoriate in the Diasporas. There are no doubts that higher education is vital to economic growth and development. Because of faculty’s core function to the academic enterprise, universities must maintain high quality-faculty not only to ensure competitiveness in this era of proliferation of institutions of higher education, but also to advance national economic growth and development. Like other universities in the developing world, Makerere University has a shortage of doctorates hence the need to produce more doctorates. However, due to several factors, for example the absence of appropriate facilities or qualified faculty, the University sends many of its faculty who require advanced education overseas, mostly to the United States and Europe. The study reveals that only 13% of all Makerere faculty who completed training in the period studied did not return to the University or left the University soon after returning from training abroad. However, some academic units experienced larger numbers of faculty not returning to the University than others. For example, 17 (28%) out of 59 Veterinary Medicine faculty who trained did not return to the University. Moreover, 48% of the 27 Veterinary Medicine faculty who trained outside Africa did not return to the University after training. Worse still, all 10 Veterinary Medicine faculty who trained in North America did not return to Makerere. The major reasons advanced for not returning were lack of career growth and development prospects and poor working conditions. Split-site programs that allow a student to attend some of the courses and/or carryout research in Uganda had very high percentages of return compared with programs that were fully based abroad. This study recommends more planned investment in the higher education enterprise, particularly for laboratories and research. The study also recommends an overhaul in the governance of the University. Additionally, establishment of split-site PhD programs University-wide is also recommended. Finally, higher education institutions are urged to find creative ways of exploiting the human capacity in the Diasporas.
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