Why do Asian students study abroad and remain abroad?

Anne Truong

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At present, the proportion of students choosing to go abroad to pursue studies at university is increasing. There are approximately one million Asians who leave their countries to study, and don’t return following their graduation. This is referred to as a “brain drain”, and it is having a marked increase in Asian countries.

1. The compensation policy is not high

For a student from Asia, the option of studying abroad is seen as a long term educational investment. However, the economic realities of life in Asia means that not all families have the economic capacity to provide a foreign education for their children. Obtaining a Bachelor’s or Masteral degree for a student not only brings pride for a family, but it increases the student’s competitiveness in the global job market. Often, when a student graduates and returns to his or her home country, they experience difficulty in finding a job which is equal to the investment which they have already placed in their overseas studies. There are issues of salary which come to the fore, and potentially having to pay back money borrowed to study abroad. This is easier to achieve through overseas employment.
Of course, further down the track, the potential to become a migrant and sponsor their family can also become an option. Graduate students who return home also experience reverse culture shock, when they have to re-adjust to being home again, and the challenges involved with reintegrating into society, employment, friendship networks, etc. Coming home could potentially be a let down because of failed expectations, both for the student, and their family. Given these realistic images, students really do need to consider if it is in their long term best interests to study abroad.
Google Headquarter in Dublin - PhotoCredit Anne Truong
Google Headquarter in Dublin – PhotoCredit Anne Truong

Tuan Nguyen remarked  “I am studying IT. I do not want to come back to Viet Nam. It is hard to find a good job because of Viet Nam’s economic crisis. I think there are a lot of global companies with offices based in Ireland such as Facebook, Google, etc. At least then I could find a job that is suitable for me there.”

26 year old international student, Emi Shimizu, who is studying Business Management at Griffith College, commented ” I wonder when I come back to Japan if I could find a good working environment where I can apply all the knowledge I have studied in Ireland.”

International student - PhotoCredit Flickr Saint Louis University
An international student – PhotoCredit Flickr Saint Louis University

2/ Better living conditions abroad

The second most important reason why international students don’t want to go home is because the living standards of their host country is usually far better than that of their home country. A better life has been experienced abroad and when a comparison is made, generally a student’s home country comes off second best. Usually the freedom, independence, and ability to travel is not as available when they live in their home country, and returning home poses some major struggles in re-adjustment, particularly if the student’s life perspectives have changed and they are expected by their families to be the same person as they were before they left.

There are always comparisons to be made when analysing the differences between Asian and Western countries. There are advantages and disadvantages for both. One aspect which European countries generally provide is a good lifestyle, promoted by a social security and health system which is far better than that at home. In the West, an Asian person seems to be able to express themselves far better than they would had they have been in their home country. You can really be yourself without the perception of natural societal prejudice from your family and culture at home.

Google Headquarter in Dublin - PhotoCredit Anne Truong
Google Headquarter in Dublin – PhotoCredit Anne Truong

Experts have identified that a continued “brain drain” is not good for developing countries to continue to be the victim of. Unfortunately, this problem cannot be easily rectified. It takes a lot of hard work and flexibility in order to bring about meaningful changes. The only real measure by which this can be dealt with is for developing countries to address the “brain drain” in a way in which coming home makes the best possible sense for the graduating student, by listening to their needs, and making appropriate changes in employment opportunities, and access to ongoing options to add to their resume.

YouTube / University of Adelaide – via Iframely

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Anne Truong