Are Romanians studying abroad willing to come back?

Postat la 08 decembrie 2009  

An idea launched quite a while ago, namely that if the Romanian youth getting an education at the best universities in the world, our elite, were to come back home to work, Romania’s economy would progress faster. However, if you talk with the Romanian students or professors abroad, they will say their desire to have a successful career is hardly compatible with the society back home.

Are Romanians studying abroad willing to come back?

Although they do hope that things will get better in Romania, few of them actually want to return now, "with the definite purpose of changing things for the better in Romania," as one of them says.
Mihai Dudu]= is a student of one of the best universities in the world, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He has a full scholarship, works in the campus, in research; he is a member of the schoolís dance team and wins invention contests.

He has a promising future and is happy with his life as it is now. Would he be willing to return to Romania? "No. I am not tempted to go back to my country. I for one want to become as good as I can in what I do and I would not have the resources for that in Romania." This is his answer and the answer of many other Romanians, either students or people who completed their education abroad and chose to stay there.

Both the business community and the government want to find leverage to make experts trained abroad return home. The problems, however, come up when trying to figure out what positions could be given to these young people upon their return. The state granted approximately 150 Special Scholarships of the Romanian Government (BSGR) from 2004 through 2007, with 100 students completing the programme already. To qualify for the scholarship, the students were required to return to Romania to take management positions in the public sector for three to five years. Only a mere 20 students are working in the local public sector for the time being, and such scholarships have not been very tempting for Dudu]= or for the friends he talked with, either. That is because, he believes, it is hard to choose what you want to do between 22 and 28 when you are 18.

Andrei Caramitru, managing partner of the local office of consultancy firm McKinsey, pointed out in a previous conversation with BUSINESS Magazin that attracting Romanian elites from abroad is a joint responsibility, of the state and private companies. As far as the latter are concerned, they not only do not try to get such a graduate, but most of them, except for multinationals, do not even realise how important such a thing is.

The consultant said that what is essential for education is the cooperation between the public and the private sectors, using the Canadian or Swiss model (Caramitru went to college in Switzerland and lived there for 13 years), where the government thoroughly researches what fields need personnel, disseminates the data to the educational system and always adjusts supply to meet demand. To do that, however, Caramitru went on, we would require more practical and vocational schools, which could supply personnel exactly where the economy needs it.

In some cases, though, the need to recruit staff for a specific company leads to greater initiatives. In August, the Dinu Patriciu Foundation and the League of Romanian Students Abroad launched the joburilaorizont.ro project in order to get Romanian graduates abroad to come home. The foundation has been granting 100 scholarships worth 15,000 dollars for master or doctoral studies abroad every year since 2008.

The students are bound to come back and work in Romania either in the public or the private sector for a period equal to that spent studying. This year 32 students who got a scholarship are expected to come back until December. Out of them, says Tincu]a Baltag, the general manager of the foundation, 16 have already returned and some have even managed to get a job with multinational companies. "One of them informed us he would start his own business, which will create several tens of jobs," Baltag says.

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