Brain Drain Effect and the Romanians Who Choose to Study Abroad

The League of Romanian Students Abroad (LSRS) reacted to the project to finance studies abroad for young Romanians, proposed by the Prime Minister’s advisor Mara Mareș. “We are surprised to see reactions on the issue of scholarships for students abroad, which we categorize as premature, from colleagues for whom collaboration to improve the brain drain effect has not been a priority so far,” LSRS said in a press release.

The student organization also said that “The measures proposed as alternatives by critics of this initiative can work in parallel, they are not mutually exclusive.” LSRS accuses some of the student representatives of “not knowing and not representing the problems faced by young people who want to study abroad”.

We are surprised to see reactions on the topic of scholarships for international students, which we categorise as premature, from colleagues for whom collaboration to ameliorate the brain drain effect has not been a priority so far.

We condemn the description of such a measure as “abandoned in European public discourse”, pointing to the example of practices in other countries on the continent and in the world, such as Norway, the UK and Canada.

The measures proposed as alternatives by critics of this initiative can work in parallel, they are not mutually exclusive. For example, measures such as increasing the budget for student mobility and encouraging student participation can work in tandem with the scholarship programme.

It saddens us to see that some student representatives are still unaware of and unrepresentative of the problems faced by young people wishing to study abroad. Their reaction shows a lack of awareness of the challenges faced by many who choose to study abroad.

One of the main objectives of the League is to advocate for the return of Romanian students from abroad. However, the LSRS strategy is not to limit the possibilities of studying abroad, a practice of a political regime of sad memory, but to attract home young people who have been trained in the great university centres of the world.

With regard to the initiative launched by the representatives of the Romanian Government, we would like to remind you that the League of Romanian Students Abroad, being the only representative student organization of Romanian students in the Diaspora, is permanently consulted and supports the elaboration of this legislative project.

LSRS again calls for collaboration and constructive criticism from our colleagues, focusing on ways in which students educated abroad can support Romania’s future.

“It is unfortunate that a student association takes a bill for scholarships targeted at high-achieving students from poor backgrounds and presents it as a bad measure that motivates people to leave the country, especially when it also has an implementable repatriation mechanism. A similar measure has existed in Norway for decades. Besides, no one is forcibly taking future students out of the country and taking them to study abroad. It is about those students who want to study abroad, perform well, have potential, despite financial and other difficulties in their environment.

At the same time, Romanian students abroad face countless difficulties, given the high academic level in the host countries and the burden of adapting to a new country. Many of them have to work while going to university, in this context financial support can directly contribute to improving their academic results and quality of life. This unflattering position only denotes that some “student” associations are disconnected from the reality of both students and students. It is regrettable that our generation, the one that should contribute to Romania’s development, has within it a component that is inclined to criticize and attack everything just for the sake of being against it, without presenting constructive criticism or concrete solutions”, said Decebal Mohîrță, coordinator of the German branch of the League of Romanian Students Abroad.

“For more than a year now, humanity has been affected on all levels by an unpredictable enemy, and the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has put health workers in the spotlight. The Federation of Medical Students’ Associations in Romania has repeatedly supported over the years measures aimed at increasing the quality of medical education, medical practice and working conditions in health care facilities in order to maintain a high level of interest of medical graduates to continue working in Romania.

However, the pandemic context has highlighted that it is imperative that residents and young doctors are not only well trained, but also have an overview of existing pathologies, for the proper treatment of people requiring medical care. However, this globalisation of healthcare has long been an international priority, with programmes implemented by the World Health Organisation or through the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda, adopted in 2015.

Thus, a measure of financial support for those who wish to follow a study program in higher education abroad – bachelor, master or doctorate, in order to obtain the necessary international experience in the medical act, especially in the context of a well-structured plan, aimed at bringing young professionals, along with good practices learned abroad, back to Romania.

Through quality professional training, integration into multicultural environments, knowledge of other health systems, students and resident doctors can bring new techniques and perspectives to the Romanian public health system. As IFMSA’s motto “Think globally, act locally” says, it is important that young doctors in Romania have the opportunity to develop professionally in order to make a change for the better in the country’s health sector and to be able to provide all types of care to the citizens in Romania”, said Cristian Persu, Federation of Medical Students’ Associations of Romania.

“The Romanian Students’ Union supports initiatives aimed at the return of Romanian students from abroad. Students going abroad to study and international training offers them new perspectives, but their return depends on us. This trend should be of interest both to representatives at the highest level and to us – the students representing Romania. If this initiative “offering financial support to young people wishing to study abroad” proves to be a good solution for aligning with international standards, all we can do is act. The need for a new breath of fresh air is felt by all of us. We encourage such initiatives that lead to an integrative training of young people, the formation of new skills and the development of our own country”, said Cătălin Babiță – Romanian Students’ Union.

In recent years, we have seen how difficult it is to come up with a different idea, one that breaks the mould we have all learned. It is very easy to argue, to “pass” responsibility from one person to another, which has never helped the good of this country. In this situation, in this program you can see arguments and counter-arguments, except, each person sees what they really want. That’s how it was with the “Free train for students”, unfortunately we didn’t learn anything. We want more to lose in terms of “quality” than to bring a change and maybe try to win once. I wonder: after 4-6 years of education that the state gives you, does anyone stop you from going abroad to find a job because the wages are higher? The situation is similar for this programme – it won’t even matter how much money the state gives you to go study in another country, because the attraction of a more developed society is so great once you get there. So it is almost impossible to manage whether the student will return or not. The problem is not this program, the problem is the mechanism this country uses. And to touch on the situation of education funding in the country, programs like this are not the reason why Romania has not reached 6% of GDP allocation for Education, the reason is the people. The people who tell you something during a discussion, and then nobody takes those things on board”, said Ciprian Zamfir, National Union of Romanian Students.

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