Conclusion by keralaguest


									       Conclusion from the editor

       Mobility is the essential feature of our century. At its beginning the British sociologist
John Urry even proclaimed a new sociology, understood as the study of mobility. This places
the higher education area in need of socioeducational reflection and of thorough studies on
skilled and talented people on the move. The research undertaken by the EHEW 2 project
team answers this need, focusing on the impact on brain gain of mobility within the Erasmus
Mundus programme.

       Erasmus Mundus and brain gain.
       Many of the Mundus alumni have now returned to their home countries, taking with
them the knowledge and skills that they gained in Europe; others remain in Europe during
their doctorate or for work. Whether students who have been educated in Europe choose to
remain there permanently or temporary, or to return to their country of origin immediately
upon graduation, is their personal and free decision. But to some extent the decision to return
in order to transfer the knowledge, skills, and technology of the specialization studied in the
EU can be influenced by well promoted cases of return success stories. The goal of our
project was to provide EM stakeholders with attractive and artistically valuable tools—the
DVD film, The Mundificent Seven, and the brochure—both promoting the idea of such a
transfer. The project team has also elaborated these seven cases of successful return in a
scientific but very human way in an in-depth monograph, The Best and Brightest Come Back
Home: The Impact of the Erasmus Mundus Programme on its Non-European Master’s
Graduates. The present book, which is the final product of the project, focuses on the
question of brain drain and brain gain in the Erasmus Mundus perspective. It presents post-
Mundus stories written by seven other graduates, analyses the program’s impact upon the
career development noted in the group of twenty graduates, and analyses the background and
significance of plans to stay or to return, as expressed by 225 Mundus students. Through these
project products, Mundus graduates can share the reasons why they returned, despite the
temptation of higher salaries and standards of living in Europe, and how they found jobs and
subsequently introduced the knowledge and skills that they had acquired into their
workplaces. They talk about how they now share and promote European culture and values,
and how their studies abroad came to be a path to greater social or national responsibility, and
not simply for the advancement of their individual careers. Of course, it also happens that
some countries are unable to use Mundus graduates’ talent due to a lack of opportunity or of

the will to put returnees skills into practice, and such situations are also represented in the
investigated sample. The film, the books, and the brochure may all remind other Mundus
graduates and students that their home countries need them in order to grow economically and
become the country that “those remaining behind” strive for. It seems that such awareness is
already high among Mundus students—the online survey on the students of 29 EMMCs
showed that a significant fraction of respondents want to contribute to the development of
knowledge, to new areas of competence, to effectiveness and modernization of their home
services and policies, and to the economic growth and well-being of their compatriots.
       The existence of such contributors among Mundus graduates, transferring technology
and knowledge to developing countries, is the most valuable outcome of this European
initiative. Without their most highly educated people to lead economic and social
development at home, the world’s poorest countries are trapped in unending cycles of
deprivation. The lack of education, healthcare, and economic opportunities perpetuate these
same conditions for future generations. At the same time, a society’s collective inability to
foster positive change often leads to violence and extremism. In the long term, helping
international students to contribute to the development of their home countries, to the creation
of societies with greater opportunities and broader access to opportunities, may be the greatest
contribution of EU higher education to a safer, wealthier, and happier world. Nevertheless,
during studies in the framework of a previous project, EHEW 1,1 it was noted that some
students seem to misunderstand the educational mission of the European Union which gives
opportunities to non-EU students to study on Erasmus Mundus Masters Courses. Some
students have seen it as an activity leading solely to brain drain. Europe tends to get more
foreign students, but there is a need to stress that brain drain and the exploitation of young,
professional minds outside Europe to come and contribute to the EU’s aspiration of locating
itself at the central position of EU–non-EU bilateral relations (in the words of a Malaysian
student of European Masters in Global Studies) is definitely not the idea underlying the
Mundus Programme, and the justification for such a defence comes not only from the spheres
of the EU’s policy and philosophy as declared in program documents and official
communications, but also from the research results presented in this book. The possible
positive impact of the transfer of knowledge, skills, and technology gained in Europe leading
to brain gain for developing countries became evident during the analysis of graduates’ post-

 European Higher Education for the World—Studies and Promotion (EM Action 4 project,

Mundus return testimonies and students’ plans for actions following completion of studies in
       There are four main reasons why the EU invites third country students. Firstly, their
research contributions can bolster scientific progress and the EU’s competitiveness, especially
in science and engineering. Secondly, in a globalized world it is vital that European students
and scholars will understand how to study and work alongside those representing significantly
different cultures. Thirdly, third country students and scientists can be transmitters of
European Union ideas and values across the world, educating the world’s elites, acquainting
them with our political and economic systems, and helping them to understand the European
point of view based on pluralism, humanism, individualism, freedom, solidarity, and so on.
They may take back home an appreciation of European values, of its ideas, history, and
culture, and also a preference for European products. They can be ambassadors of closer,
more positive relations with the European Union and its Member States. Fourthly, they will
take home knowledge and skills gained during studies and practice in Europe in order to
improve economy, education, and governance; to modernize services and policies; and to
enhance economic growth and improve the quality of life in developing countries or
elsewhere, where needed, in the world.
       Even though many of the Mundus students state that they will stay in Europe for some
time after their graduation in order to get a job or continue their studies at PhD level, this will
not necessarily lead to brain drain but, conversely, may lead to innovative and accelerating
actions, further increasing the potential for economic growth. They plan to stay temporarily in
Europe to accumulate capital—human, entrepreneurial, financial, and social. Hoping to set up
a business or research career at home, they may first decide to get an advanced degree such as
a doctorate, and so they will gain experience in a particular field, with a view to developing
particular business ideas or scientific topics. This helps build research capacity for both
students and their host departments. Together with expertise, Mundus grantees will
accumulate the necessary confidence, connections, and reputation. When Mundus alumni do
decide to settle in Europe, it is usually as a result of a distinct lack of opportunities in their
home countries to put their skills into practice at that time. Their migration choice expresses
freedom or necessity. In the case of those who go home directly after their studies, the reasons
for doing so are usually a desire to be reunited with their family and friends, a need to return
to their previous roles and positions and, most importantly in terms of the programme—a
wish to introduce to their home countries the knowledge and skills that they have acquired in
Europe. Erasmus Mundus offers studies in the fields most needing specialists in developing

world—some 120 EM masters courses train students in areas like economic, state, and social
development, tropical medicine, public health systems, humanitarian aid, sustainable rural
development, sustainable tropical forestry, animal breeding and genetics, diagnosis and repair
of buildings, fire safety engineering, environmental engineering, earthquake engineering and
engineering seismology, coastal and marine engineering agricultural, hydroinformatics and
water management, food and environmental policy, applied ecology, tourism management,
women’s and gender studies, physical activity of disabled people, human rights practices,
migration and social cohesion, early childhood education and care, and many other
specializations answering urgent needs of developing countries. More sophisticated and
advanced courses training in specializations such as IT, engineering, robotics, aeronautic,
nanotechnology will contribute to newly industrialized countries (NICs), which are ready and
capable of making use of specialists trained in these areas.

       Findings on the research on EM programme—summary.
       The second part of this book presented a part of the findings of empirical
investigations carried out within the EHEW 2 project. Its first chapter, dealing with the
analysis of twenty return cases, focused on EM graduates’ career development after their
return home. The cases presented there were those of graduates of Erasmus Mundus courses
from non-European countries considered economically less developed, developing, or newly
industrialized. At the time of research they were working in their home countries in sectors
related to the specializations of the Erasmus Mundus Master Course they had completed.
These returnees were asked to comment on the role of transfer of the knowledge and skills
gained in Europe to the professional practice and social development in their home country.
The chosen twenty cases represented various professions and twelve EMMCs, and concerned
individuals who came from fifteen countries on five continents, including both large and
emerging economies such as BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), as well as those smaller
and poorer countries with the highest brain drain indexes—such as Bolivia, Senegal, the
Philippines and Albania.
       The graduates’ testimonies documented the variety of their motives for studying in the
Erasmus Mundus programme, the diversity of their experiences both in Europe and on
returning home, and the range of different paths that their personal and professional
development subsequently took. This study shows the potential of the Mundus programme to
have a positive impact on poorer countries through the work of its alumni. In some cases, the
graduate’s return resulted in major developments in their field of expertise in their country,

while those of others resulted in smaller improvements, or just in an increased level of
professionalism at their institutions. Regardless of their magnitude, these developments were
all possible thanks to the transfer of knowledge and skills from Europe.
       The EM alumni essays, as well as the statements and responses in the questionnaires,
revealed that the program’s impact was of three main kinds:
    Cultural and intellectual impact: Mundus graduates have received international
       exposure, with the EM programme being their “window to the world”; they have
       benefited culturally, intellectually, and linguistically in the rich educational and
       cultural environment of the EU countries;
    Educational impact: They have became acquainted with international academia, have
       become familiar with other university systems and different academic cultures, have
       benefited from high quality and up-to-date research, modern approaches to the
       teaching-learning processes, the evaluation and quality assurance culture, access to
       literature resources in vast libraries, and access to high-tech laboratories;
    Professional and developmental impact: The alumni, having being trained at EU
       Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs), and having had access to broad, up-to-date
       sources of knowledge and technology, have benefited professionally, which has
       increased their capacities to continue to advance their education, research work, and
       professional activities at home, thus contributing to the development of their home

   The EM graduates’ testimonies concerning their career development was commented on
under five headings: 1) advances in professionalism (of alumni and their institutions); 2)
promotion at work or getting a better job, including positions offered as a continuation or
consequence of the internship organized by EMMCs; 3) increase in responsibilities and
functions, including transfer of knowledge; 4) challenging professional tasks; and 5)
opportunities to work pro bono publico. These headings are briefly presented below.

       1. Advances in professionalism
       EM alumni reported that:
           training in the EU has contributed to the development of their professionalism and
            increased the quality of human resources in their home institutions;

   the expertise they gained, the know-how, and the generic, communication, and
    language skills obtained, along with their increased professional and overall
    confidence, all contributed to developments and changes in many institutions of
    the public and private sectors.
   the interaction they experienced with their European counterparts in both
    academic and social settings has enriched them professionally and helped to
    develop crossboundary understanding. In the wider perspective, this will facilitate
    future cooperation in their sectors and the mutual enrichment of their societies.

2. Promotion at work
Our respondents stated that they:
       had been promoted at their pre-Mundus workplace, or had gotten a better job
       were offered positions that were continuations of or consequences of the
        internship organized by EMMCs;
       received significant promotions at work, which included a rise in earnings;
       got a better job thanks to high recognition of EM diploma;
       experienced some advantage over their compatriots who did not have
        experience abroad, as a result of the appreciation of their new knowledge and
        skills capital;
       noted that their studies and work experience in Europe were considered to be a
        signal of their quality by their home labour market.

3.More responsibilities
EM grantees’ testimonies reveal that:
       receiving more tasks after return and extending one’s responsibilities and
        functions—including transferring knowledge to workmates or to other groups
        in society—was a cause for satisfaction, pride and excitement;
       they played a role of “transmitters and multipliers” of the educational benefits
        they have gained, sometimes in forms organized by the returnees together with
        their home institutions.

       they played the role of promoters of cooperation between respective sectors in
        Europe and in their home countries, transmitting European Union ideas and
       they have taken home the appreciation of these European values, of its ideas,
        history and culture, and also an appreciation of European products.

4. Challenging professional tasks
Our respondents reported that:
       challenging professional tasks appeared in their lives thanks to the recognition
        they received for their education and degrees;
       they were considered to be professionals who can face nonstandard tasks
        which require not only knowledge, but also open-mindedness and broad
        they attributed intellectual and cultural gains to the time they spent in
        Europe—the possibility of understanding different lifestyles and of further
        opening one’s mind which were developed during Mundus studies in Europe,
       quite new spheres of activity in professional practice and research opened to
        them, further developing their careers

5. Pro bono work
EM alumni stated that being provided with international education opportunities in
Europe resulted in:
       an awakening or strengthening of their commitment to social development in a
        wider context, which encouraged them to enter on a path to greater social
        responsibility, and not simply to advance their individual careers;
       the enablement of their further educational and professional development, and
        influences on their sense of value and potential, which empower them for
        leadership and encourages them to make changes in their sometimes
        vulnerable environments;
       their points of views and attitudes towards domestic problems changing;
       taking home knowledge and skills gained during their studies and practice in
        Europe, which have allowed them to improve some aspects of the local

                economy, education, services, policy, and governance, and to enhance
                economic growth and improve the quality of life in their countries;
               their becoming capable of contributing to the dissemination of social and
                democratic values which enhance political stability and reconcile governance
                in their home countries, including engaging in politics, sometimes being
                offered prominent positions, being perceived as a “breath of fresh air” that can
                bring positive changes.

       In some cases, the impact of Mundus can manifest for a longer period or more widely
on society. This is even more valuable, knowing that some respondents confessed that before
they made their decision to return, they did entertain doubts. They had spent a wonderful year
or two in Europe, visited several countries, and enjoyed studying and living in good
conditions, and so they faced the difficult task of return to their environments, often much
inferior in quality of life and work.
       Despite these impacts, expected by the programme and confirmed to be actual by the
surveyed alumni, it is important to keep in mind that although European developments and
ideas may be a point of reference for other regions and countries, 1) they are not the only
possible source of good practice and solutions; 2) they should be transferred flexibly, with
adaptation to the culture, needs, and requirements of third country users; and 3) this transfer
should proceed in a way that ensures mutual benefit from both side’s expertise.

       The results of a survey on the plans of current Mundus students are presented in detail
in the second chapter, “To Come Home or to Stay in Europe after Mundus? Results of a
Survey on Mundus Students’ Plans”. The study covers both qualitative and quantitative
analysis, and complements two other pieces of research carried out within the project: the
previously outlined qualitative analysis of the impact on the home careers of the graduates of
European joint master’s programs, and the phenomenological study of seven return cases,
published in the book entitled The Best and Brightest Come Back Home: The Impact of the
Erasmus Mundus Programme on its Non-European Master’s Graduates. All three
investigations look for brain gain for the sending countries resulting from the Erasmus
Mundus programme. Students from 29 master’s courses took part in our online study. A total
of 225 students responded to the questionnaire, and vast majority of them (94.22%)
represented countries of emerging and developing economies.

       As well as being asked explicitly about their future plans, the respondents were
questioned regarding the factors that push students from developing countries to study abroad,
and the factors which affect their decision to either return home or to remain in the host
country on completion of their studies. Among the factors influencing the respondents’ own
decisions, the role of family obligations, their acquaintance with examples of the successful
career development of previous Erasmus Mundus graduates, and their awareness of brain
drain is analysed. The survey also investigated respondents’ visions of life and work in the
more distant future.
       1. Students’ plans after completing Erasmus Mundus Master’s Courses
       Mundus students consider the following possible options: 1) to return home if they
have there a stable job else the opportunity to start a professional career, knowing that they
may be more urgently needed and sought there than in Europe; 2) to stay in the EU in an
environment offering improvement of their skills and of their professionalism, better
resources, and better working conditions; or 3) to work for an international NGO. Another
option—that of pursuing a career in the USA—was mentioned only by one respondent of
non-US origin.
       The first three tables below present some introductory quantitative results that will be
commented on below. The first chapter of this publication additionally contains a detailed
analysis of students’ answers to the open questions of the questionnaire, which complements
and explains these and further quantitative results.

Table 1. Intention to return home (all respondents).
Before beginning Mundus studies, did an intention exist to
                                                              YES          NO
return home upon graduation?
                                                              76.34%       23.66%

Table 2. Students’ plans after graduation (all respondents)
                           I will return I will stay in                  I have other
Students’ current plans.   home            the EU         I don’t know   plans
                           30.77%          26.24%         37.56%         5.43%

Table 3. Planned time of return (respondents who declared the will to return home).

Planned time of return of those who wish According to intentions According            to

to return home:                               before starting studies   current plans

immediately after getting the diploma         19.88%                    23.37%
in the first three months after getting the
diploma                                       18.71%                    19.02%

in the first year after getting the diploma   16.96%                    14.13%
later                                         44.44%                    43.48%

        a) Plans to stay in Europe
        Before starting Mundus studies, three quarters of the surveyed students had the
intention to return home upon graduation. The percentage of pre-Mundus intentions to stay in
Europe (table 1) is a little smaller that of the students’ current plans (table 2), but not
significantly enough to say that life in Europe has affected their previous plans. Students
chose from four time options, as illustrated in table 3. A choice of one of the two first options
may indicate a return intention, and this embraces the option of staying in Europe for up to
another three months, a period that may act as a buffer, a time for closing issues, for some
actions not yet done, for having a look for possible opportunities in Europe, but without a
strong intention to stay there. Around 14% of students plan to stay in Europe after graduation
for a period of up to one year (but longer than three months), and 43% intend to stay for a
longer time. From the latter group’s answers to open questions, it is known that the majority
intend to stay between two to five years to get some work experience. Those who have chosen
an academic career and plan to undertake doctoral studies intend to stay even longer in EU
        The largest group of those who intend to stay in Europe (61%) would like to obtain a
doctorate (table 4), usually in the framework of Erasmus Mundus. Others want to continue
their academic education by enrolling in a doctoral course in one of the EU higher education
institutions, mainly those involved in the EM consortia. Such a possibility often occurs as a
consequence of excellent performance during Master’s studies. Some students applied and are
waiting for the results, while some respondents have already received doctoral scholarships.
Many reasons for choosing such an option were noted in the answers to the open questions of
the questionnaire.

          Table 4. Plans of students (respondents who declared the will to stay in the European
Specific plans of those who want to stay in the European Union:             Percentage
Doctoral studies                                                            61.00%
Further studies but not at the doctoral level                               3.50%
Work at university                                                          23.00%
Work outside university                                                     1.00%
Travelling                                                                  3.50%
Other plans                                                                 8.00%

          Respondents who want to stay in Europe hope to get a suitable job soon after
completing their course, and to add practical experience to the knowledge gained during
studies, something that they cannot expect in their own countries. Nevertheless, as the table 5
indicates, not many students were offered jobs during the course of their studies. But for some
of them, a job developed from an internship organized by the Mundus course, or was found
through the Erasmus Mundus Alumni and Students Association (EMA).

          Table 5. Received proposal to work in the EU (all respondents).
                    Have you received a job proposal or a real
                    chance of getting an interesting job in the EU
                    yet?                                             Percentage
                    NO                                               82.87%
                    YES                                              17.13%
          The table below refers to the preferences of those students who wish to study at
doctoral level, and shows that the majority would like to continue undertake such study in
European HEIs.

          Table 6. Plans to continue at PhD studies (respondents who wish to study at doctoral
Students’ preferences as to the place of PhD studies:
In the EU                                                                73.60%
At home                                                                  8.43%
Elsewhere                                                                17.98%

       Some 37.5% of respondents answered that they still do not know whether they will
stay or return after completing studies. In their cases, the decision depends on the work
opportunities they can find in the EU, or on the success of the PhD applications they have
submitted to European HEIs.
       b) Plans to return home
       One third of the respondents want to return home. Interestingly, as many as 76% of
them had such an intention before even starting Mundus studies. After their arrival in Europe,
when they had studied and lived there for some time, this intention turned out to be not as
strong as it was at the time when they won the scholarship. In this group, 23% of respondents
declared that they would go back home immediately after receiving their diplomas, many with
the aim of contributing to the development of knowledge, of new areas of competence, of
effectiveness and modernization of their home country’s services and policies, and generally
with the intention of contributing to the economic growth or the well-being of their
compatriots. Those of middle age who have previous successful practice in stable positions in
their home country are more likely to return. With such strong backgrounds, complemented
by the expertise gained during their studies at prestigious European universities, they are
eager to return, both in order to support their home institutions, and to rejoin their families.
Some students revealed that they would be forced to come back home due to their failure to
find a job or further study opportunities in the EU. Numerous respondents who declared they
would return home do so for personal or family reasons.
       The plans of the EM students concern not only career prospects, but also a kind of
obligation to serve one’s people. The largest group of those who plan to return stated in their
answers to the open questions that they aim to contribute to building capacity of their nation
through the transfer of knowledge gained in Europe. Returning with Erasmus Mundus degrees
will give them an opportunity to start or to continue their professional careers in their home
countries, but only if the local labour markets or governments are in fact in need of specialists
in the sectors which are relevant to their educational background, and only if they are offered
attractive remuneration. From among the specializations taught by the courses participating in
the survey, the most promising in terms of future career prospects at home—in the opinion of
students from developing countries—were animal breeding, monument conservation, energy
development, and forestry; while future ICT, economics, and engineering specialists from
NICs foresee that they will be able to find jobs relatively easily in their home country.

       Some students see themselves in the future as a bridge between the country of origin
and European countries, with a mission to promote and implement cooperation; among them
are also some who want to transfer their knowledge to the business sector.
       Those students who intended to return home after completion of their courses were
asked whether they had any plans to visit Europe again, or stay for longer time in the EU, and
were requested to give details. In response, the majority expressed their willingness to return
to Europe later for either leisure or academic and business purposes. Many revealed that they
were enchanted by Europe. Short visits for conferences, seminars, and short-term training
were the most frequently considered purposes for future trips to Europe, which, however, they
expected to be financed and organized by European bodies. Those who had a kind of bond
with their university or other workplace plan to return to Europe only when the required
period of reintegration finishes.

       2. Factors influencing students’ decisions

       a) Family obligations
       The simple truth is expressed by a Malaysian student: “always the country where you
are born is the most beautiful place, although most of the things will not be better than in
Europe”. She touches on the dilemmas which accompany the reasoning of those who consider
staying in Europe. Even one or two years of studies in Europe involve suspending close
connections with loved ones left behind. The extent to which both sides suffer depends on
many factors: it may be eased by previous familiarity with relatives’ long absences, access to
communication technologies, cultural and physical proximity of the country of origin and the
host country. A long stay away from the family may be a life-changing event. In the question
concerning family support or opposition with regard to the decision to settle abroad (in which
students were also requested to give further explanations), it was revealed that support for
one’s plans from parents, spouses, and other family members plays a crucial role in Mundus
students’ decisions.

       Table 7. Attitude of students’ families towards the decision to settle abroad (all

Expected attitude of the family towards the decision to settle abroad:   Percentage

Against                                                                   5.71%
Hesitating                                                                23.81%
Supportive                                                                70.48%
       According to respondents’ answers, less than 6% of families would be against
emigration. Members of these families may be worried about a student living a lonely
existence in a country that they are not very familiar with, and because of this may want
students to return home. However, 70% believe that their families would like them to settle in
Europe or elsewhere (while another 24% might hesitate but would probably agree to it), in
order to improve the economic situation for them and for their relatives. This is caused by the
fact that almost all the surveyed students come from developing countries or NICs.
       Despite the hopes of numerous students to settle down in Europe, some students,
although not necessarily their relatives, are conscious of the realistic and limited possibilities
offered by the job market in the European Union.

       b) Acquaintance with examples of successful careers of previous Erasmus Mundus
       The awareness of the impact of Mundus qualifications on the careers of other Mundus
graduates was investigated with two questions concerning knowledge of Mundus alumni
whose careers developed after their stay in a European country and/or after returning to the
home country, accompanied by a request for further information on these successes. In this
way the team investigated the level of awareness of successful cases of this kind, which may
play a role in strengthening belief in the value of a Mundus degree and its employability
potential, and might encourage similar behaviour. Mundus students are generally familiar
with more EU-based post-Mundus careers (such cases were known to 53 respondents) than
careers developed in the home country (positive answers received from 40 respondents).

       Table 8. Knowledge of Mundus alumni successful careers (all respondents).

Knowledge of successful post-Mundus careers:
Careers in the European Union                                 23.56%
Careers in the home country                                   17.78%

       Usually respondents knew about graduates of the same course, but sometimes they
also knew cases from other Mundus courses. The majority of the careers in Europe that were

reported involved doctoral studies, while the second, much smaller, group consists of those
who got jobs in the EU countries. Students also gave specific examples, sometimes detailed,
about the successful returns of their peers to countries such as Russia, Pakistan, India, Brazil,
and Thailand, which thus regained their “brains”.

       c) Awareness of the brain drain problem
       By asking questions about the scope and nature of brain drain in students’ home
countries—namely its scope, nature, causes, and effects—the respondents’ attitudes to the
problem of brain drain was revealed. According to students from small countries which have
only a low percentage of skilled and educated individuals among the population, the loss
through emigration of the main sources of knowledge and know-how is damaging. Those
from NICs and larger developing countries were similarly concerned about this phenomenon.
The majority see the remittances that the citizens of the country receive as the only good side
of the phenomenon. In the context of these findings, the respondents’ orientation among the
variations and dissimilarities in the complex topic of skill flow is not deep. On the other hand,
the comprehensiveness and level of detail found in many of the answers reveal that this topic
is present in public debate, and therefore in the minds of the Mundus students—the
representatives of the nations affected by brain drain. From many of the comments one can
read about students’ personal engagement and concern about the negative effects of brain
drain. Interesting comments about countries, such as Guatemala, Venezuela, Colombia,
Mexico, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Malaysia, and Nepal, were collected—counties which are
experiencing particular situations which make them breeding grounds for brain drain.
Numerous factors which push students out of their home country were listed and many
students referred to the situation in their discipline (i.e. of the subject of their European
Master’s or of their previous degree). Among the negative effects, the students listed the
“decreasing supply of high quality human resources”, the “decrease in loyalty to the nation”,
“the [delay in] development, and the economic and social polarization”. Yet, we also hear
that, “Europe should not be held responsible for brain drain. Developing countries should stop
the corruption, terrorism, and other stupidity”—this from a student who referred to some of
the underlying causes pushing talented people out of their countries.

       d) Visions of life and work in the more distant future.
       At the end of the questionnaire, students were asked to imagine that seven years have
already passed from the time they completed their Mundus studies, and from such a

perspective they were asked to answer the questions, “How do you imagine your life and
work in future?”, “What would you like to achieve?”, and “What changes in your life do you
expect?” Their answers revealed a wide range of career profiles and possible paths of
development reflected in the plans and aspirations of the respondents. These questions were
answered very enthusiastically, and motivated respondents to express their sometimes very
ambitious hopes, dreams, and expectations. Reading many students’ answers awakens the
hope that many positive changes will arise from the future actions of Erasmus Mundus
alumni—if only their ideal plans materialize as they expect. Nevertheless, from table 9 we can
see that the current students’ expectations of increase in their career prospects are lower than
those possessed before starting studies.

Table 9. Expectations as to Mundus impact on career prospects (all respondents)
Expectation of an increase in career prospects
as result of Mundus studies                          before starting studies current expectations
Yes                                                  92.54%                    74.67%
No                                                   7.46%                     25.33%

       In response to a request for students’ contact details, “if you think that in these seven
years or before, you would be a good candidate to be portrayed in a documentary film
presenting the careers of Mundus alumni”, more than one hundred fifty students gave their
contact details. In this way, they demonstrated that they see themselves as potential future
models for Mundus careers, to be portrayed in a second film which is planned to present the
impact of the programme on graduates, and its overall outcomes from a longer perspective.
People are likely to value different things at different stages in their lives, and it is said that
preferences, attitudes, goals, even personality change every 7 years. That is why we made
students think in such a perspective. Of course, the seven year period is a conventional one,
and the whole thing is just a variety of popular wisdom, but nevertheless it is good period in
which to investigate and reconsider the impact of Mundus, and we will return to our 2008–
2009 survey respondents around the year 2015. Contacting respondents again and verifying
their achievements with their plans should be an interesting exercise for all interested
parties—respondents, institutional EM stakeholders, and researchers. The result of such an
investigation would be a source of qualitative data, which together with quantitative results of
large-scale surveys on Mundus graduates would give a full complementary picture of
graduates’ impact, and would further illustrate the dilemma of returning home or staying in

Europe after Mundus studies. Such results would help to understand the impact of Mundus
alumni on both the EU’s and their home countries’ scientific, innovative, and economic
       The collected research material, outlined in the respective parts of this book and in the
previous project publications, has implications for broader studies of the impact of the
Mundus Programme on brain drain and brain gain. The project team has come to the
conviction that brain drain is neither the intention (according to programme documents) of the
Erasmus Mundus program, nor its result—as shown by the presented cases of alumni return
and of students’ return plans. However the full picture of its results regarding the brain drain–
brain gain balance will only be visible for the cohort of 2004–2007 grantees around 2012–
2013. At that time, a large-scale survey of EM graduates should be carried out. This would
not only identify how many of its grant-holders stayed in Europe, but also—if they stayed—
what the possible channels of brain gain are. The investigation would thus answer the
questions of how long they plan to remain, how much they remit, how much of that sum is
invested in education by their relatives, and how they link professionally with their home
countries. Analysis of the answers will give a full and multisided picture of the results of their
mobility to the EU, in terms of gains and losses of human capital.
       It is too early to finally state the impact of the Erasmus Mundus Programme on the
brain drain–brain gain phenomena. Brain drain is definitely not the intention of the Erasmus
Mundus Programme as defined in programme documents, and although nowadays its level
seems not to be alarming, it may nonetheless reach higher levels in future. There are inspiring
cases of return, as well as of students’ stated intentions to return strongly represented in the
survey, but the full statistical and qualitative picture of the programme results regarding the
balance of human capital flows may only be visible in few years, when further studies
regarding this topic on EM graduates should be carried out. Promotion of the return option
and demonstrating return success stories is important, but will not change the underlying
causes pushing educated people out of their countries and pressing them to choose emigration.


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