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Brain Drain – Oh Really?

It is a concern habitually voiced now & than on various platforms that because of the untoward state of the state, students (undergrads & graduates) are fleeing the country ensuing brain drain

I would say, too many applicants for fewer seats obtainable in universities and consequently failure to get admission in professional institutes is actually the notion of “brain drain”. I’d rather consider the aforementioned brain drain a blessing in the given situation. It is inevitable now at least those who can afford, or students’ who are able to get scholarships are going abroad, creating space for freshmen here.

Policy makers are aware of the fact that more than half of our population constitutes adolescents; they have been calling them our greatest treasure & pride. But the irony is that, no development had been done to dwell them except to possibly exploit them for some mere political purpose, if not for anything else. Having most of our population being predominantly youngsters should have sent shivers & goose bumps, setting off alarm bells across campuses to have more of the same developed on an emergency basis.

Higher Education Commission did an incredible job for a couple of years, thanks to Dr Atta-ur-Rehman. His plan of opening campuses of 11 foreign universities here, arranging of scholarships and outreach program etc was marvelous. After the merciless butchery of the HEC after his departure all his efforts of opening those coveted 11 campuses went down the drain, the outreach program bunged up & scholarships vanished.

For instance, the MCAT, only in Punjab this year about 20,000 applicants applied for seats as few as 2000 the private sector took advantage of the shortcoming resulting in mushrooming of private medical colleges which are in reality meant for business. Scores of these private colleges have their first or second year and are charging a minimum fee of 20 lakh. They have exploited parents and seemingly there is no restraint and consequentially no evaluation. Most disquieting fact is that the quality of education is being compromised. Undoubtedly, with such hideos quality of education cases like Imane Malik would be seen more and more frequently in future.

Parents who can afford such phenomenal tuition costs maybe can also meet the expenses of better quality graduate degrees abroad & consequently are sending off their children out of the country.Is this brain drain??

Moreover, employment situation is even worse. Graduates are being produced by the dozens with absoltuely no job opening for such mass produced MBA’s, IT experts and are left to do odd jobs even manning the cubicles at call centers which they would have achieved without the expensive education they had previously acquired. Is this not brain drain?

Brain drain happens when state of affairs around does not let people use their brain to the best of their ability. Those who are departing are at least sending off their remittances back home.

Graduates these days are opting for postgraduate degrees abroad instead of grieving over redundancy, which I take as a positive approach. Providentially, scholarships and financial aid availability from their from foreign universities, even after the dreary downfall of HEC.

Brain will be drained if they are left to rot at homes after their FSc/A’s because they are incapable to get admission anywhere coz their are not enough seats on hand for them or brain drain would ensue if even after a graduate degree, unemployment leave them dejected, disheartened & perturbed.

Pakistan has more than enough brain, to be drained so easily. Solution is easy – Fix govt policies, revive HEC, build new universities, conduct evening classes in campuses, improve economy, combat unemployment – the much mourned “brain drain” that has already happened will also reverse.

Failure to execute this indicates incapability of higher authorities, and their incapacity to hold the righteous designations. In such case, instead of drenching over brain drain, one should shout for change!!


  • Nadir El Edroos |

    Brain drain was one of those media sound bights that has become part of out popular imagination. However, it is increasingly becoming irrelevant.

    In an increasingly globalizied world its becoming easier for people to move to developed nations in search of work or to complete studies. However, a globalizied world also offers oppourtunities for the same individuals to return to their countries and leverage their skills like never before.

    In the late 1980s and 1990s brain drain become synonomous with the thousands of Indian doctors and engineers leaving India for the US. India like many other nations pointed to the mass exodus of its qualified young people as a major irritant to its development prospects.

    However, with the rise of India, the increasing economic might of China, East Asian economies, the last 10 years has also witnessed inward migration, where skills received abroad have helped leverage success at home.

    AS the author mentions above, as long as the economic climate of the country is not conduce to leverage the skills and aspirations of university students they will continue to look abroad. The current global financial crisis has made the West less economically appealing than anytime before, so for many who make the move to Europe for example, things may not be what they would have expected. But at the very least the sense that hard work is rewarded will still encourage people to look beyond Pakistan's borders.

    Brain drain may be a problem of the past or a current problem, wither way it is for the government to create an environment that helps foster inward migration, encourage enterprise and harness the skills that Pakistanis that have gained abroad.

    I agree with everything you say, though I wouldn't share your enthusiasm for the HEC and Dr. Ata ur Rehman but a great read!

  • Asmat |

    Brain drain should be considered as a blessing in disguise rather than an issue. Very well said by the two authors and i would like to highlight the marcoeconomic impact of the brain drain on our economy. The foreign reserves in terms of the foreign remittances are the the only interest free source for Government to build up foreign reserves other wise government will have to bear the high cost of foreign loans from monetary organisations and accepting various stringent covinents over the country moneraty policy the recent VAT is the best example. Brain drain also helps to enhance the country's balance of payment.

    The other side of picture is the ultimate sufferes are the citizen of Pakistan who are left who inexperience professionals, doctors, engineers, and accountants. but that is the way the Industry works.

  • Rashid Saleem |

    I believe that the main reason behind this brain drain is the fear induced in the public through the terrorism activities. Our industry has suffered huge losses and jobs have reduced subsequently. But now things are getting better and we should keep our fingers crossed.

  • Mera Pakistan |

    Oh really! I agree with you. Sending your citizens for studying abroad is not brain drain but going there and working there for the rest of their lives and giving services abroad is Brain Drain. Hey, I have a good option that why not our people come back and do their own business.

    • Beetle B. |

      Hey, I have a good option that why not our people come back and do their own business.

      Because it is a serious uphill battle. Let's be honest. While Pakistanis may pay lip service about wanting them back, the very same people make life difficult for them.

      I know of examples from various segments of society. Take university faculty. They come back and try to reform what was then (and perhaps still is) a very broken education system. At each step of the way, either the students or fellow faculty members opposed them. They realized they wasted their time in coming back. Some gave up and moved to other countries to teach. I applaud them.

      Yes, we can all say, "Come and improve our country". But then when they come, we provide them with no support, and are unwilling to carry out the changes they recommend. When I visit Pakistan and point out flaws, I merely get ridiculed.

      You have to realize: Most Pakistanis have a strong affinity to Pakistani culture, and are unwilling to change. It has its pluses, but most of the problems in the society arise from that culture as well. Don't try to have your cake and eat it.

      And really, when you have to pay bribes just to get a phone line, you're not going to get people coming back. Before a brain drain can be addressed, the corruption has to be. And if you're expecting doctors and engineers to solve the corruption problem, then you're even worse off than you think.

  • Dr. Ahsan |

    I would like to add two more factors such as,

    the security situation & the electricity load shedding which are causing the families to shift.

    And I really feel hurt, when I see Our Best Brains serving the other nations.

  • Aniqa Naz |

    This is not the brain drain at F.Sc level but its the brain drain at higher levels like after masters or PH.D or any professional degree like engineering pr medicine.

    You talked about Dr Atta-ur-Rahman but may I ask you the PH.Ds produced at that time by the expenses of government, how many of them are now in Pakistan. Many of my friends are now settled in first world countries, they have degrees but here in Pakistan we don't encourage people with high degrees. Yes, its a blessing for those who don't want to compete competent people. Its safer to be without those people who can challange you. They want the system on its way without any hindrance which a more educated and more learned one can cause and brain drain is a blessing for them. People who are now settled in other countries and don't wish to come back here don't bother to send any remittance.

    We are left here with mediocres or below average persons, and what we are facing now is the dearth of healthy competition, vision and knowledge.

    Private institutes can give you degree holders but they can not give you the real seekers of knowledge. It was the basic reason behind the death of Imane Malik.

  • achuta ramaiah |

    Well the article is good . It covers all the aspects . We had the same problem in India in 60's and 70's. The IIT chaps of these times did exceeding well in US, Canada and other palces and covered themselves with glory – so much that even top notches experts in US were surprised and mention of IIT's was enough to say that you are a brainy chap.But then Government chap ministers and like step in to spoil the fun – like Joshi and now Sibal and want to stop The IITJEE exam the engine for IIT Chaps entrance and insead go for some overall exam for all enginering colleges . So the point is that unless the Government like your government do not butt in and spoil the show. congrats again for the nice article.


    an Indian friend

  • khalid humayun |

    Blogger must know, the brain drain is due empty stomach. When the students finish their academic career and come out of their houses in ironed clothes and wearing ties for interviews and starting their job career they see darkness in broadday light. What to do then. After seeing dearth of job opportunities, they apply for admission in foreign colleges and universities to get four years multiple visa. For four years they study to keep the multiple visa in tact and do petty jobs for their own bread, butter and shelter and for their dear ones in Pakistan. During the four years they try to extend the visa for more to earn. This is the naked truth. There are examples when postgraduates in love with this country preferred to come back to serve the nation. After a while they got disappointed and returned. Wise postgraduate never dare to enter into Pakistan. Almost all students who proceeded foreign countries on scholarship never came back because they know well Pakistan does not need them. First build infra-structure such that those brains come back, and believe me, they would be more than happy to serve on half of the booty they are getting there.

  • Roda |

    Its proved that at lest we have some good brains.

    Brain drain is not a issue at all .

    Who can afford higher education abroad when 80% of us even can not afford it here .

    Most of these students are from rich family back ground when they can spend about 6-7 million Rupee on there education .

    They can have a business here by investing this amount.

    There is a basic fault in our education system.We need more technician then BE.

    Eg: we are a agriculture country but we do not teach agriculture to our children in there secondary class schooling.

    Our 60% working class is working in textile industry but when you ask the owners, why do not you upgrade your machinery there answer is that we do not have technically educated labour.

  • Nazia |

    Brain drain is a normal and natural process in military of mafia like states.

    Honest and hard working Intellectuals cant fight with gangsters and son of guns of state who naturally tend to rule the country in state of lawlessness.Playing war games for promoting war cultures in a critical region always force intellectual brains business mind to leave the insecure area.

    This is one of major reason of down fall of Islamic empire

    from the 9th to 13th centuries which had their educational roots in surroundings of Iraq. One of the most famous centers of learning was Bayt al-Hikmah (the House of Wisdom), which attracted scholars from all over the world, Here teachers and students worked together and produced one of fine pieces of intellectualism under Islamic culture. The House of Wisdom was home to many scholars the most famous mathematician among them was Al-Khawarizmi,.

    It was known as the world's richest and most intellectual city of the time

    The reasons of down fall of muslim were same as we are seeing these days and we are trying to find under topic of brain drains like human-made rivalry between Shia and Sunni Muslims, internal security problems,attack of mongols and inclination of rulers toward war activites.

    Since then this city like Muslim ummah is now being recognized as long period of decline, and became host and hospital of numerous wars and battles that continue to this day and now spread to thickly populated Muslim country.

    • Beetle B. |

      This is one of major reason of down fall of Islamic empire

      from the 9th to 13th centuries which had their educational roots in surroundings of Iraq.

      There was no downfall of the Islamic empire at that time. It just shifted from Iraq to Spain 😉

  • Nazia |

    This was also an example of brain drains under above mentioned reasons and there Christians and french took over the reigns from Muslim rulers and now Spain is recognized as one of Christianity followers nation in the world.

    Iraq's living conditions are in front of whole world where now terroists are produced.

    Muslims are even not allowed to say their prayer in Cordoba mosque.

    I am only interested in reasons that Muslims religious conflicts,narrow mindedness and their mongols like interest of all time busy in war activities are basic reason of brain drains and now you hardly find such literary culture which was only recorded in the history of Iraq.

    So now mongols have been regenerated in Muslims soil in the form of civilized army officers who are eliminating intellectuals brains from system to promote militarism in state matters.

  • Roda |

    @ Nazia

    You always need some one to fight with.

    I request Mughal to come back with his facts and figures .

  • Nazia |


    Where is fight in my above comments?

    Just having discussions on serious issue of brain drain in weak Pakistani society.

    I can give you example that how brains run away from country and then return back on some western mission.

    you can perceive its intensity through this news and important hiring.

    IMF-man planted in Planning Commission

    Dr nadeem ul haq was sent to higher studies on Pakistan's expenditures and then he refused to served back in his leaving post.Therefore he was declared as absconders.

    Now enjoying all benefits of western life in which Pakistani money contributed lot to fix his foundation , now this brain drain of Paksitan is coming back on one of lucrative posts.Less then it our brains dont accept to fulfill their national duties.

    His another credentials that actually weighs in Pakistani society is he is brother in law of waseem sajjad who always protected and then helped him to take the top seat , no matter once he was considered as an absconder.

    Do you think that all this comes in matter of fight with you and other participants.

    Calling MAM as SOS call is interesting feature for me as no way my inexperience comments mostly based on common sense and personal informations can be equated with sophisticated information of MAM as per his professional experience.

  • Nazia |

    These two lengthy and random thoughts in form of above COMMENTS and my reply to this abnormal comment is clear an example of after effects of brain drain and its consequences in our society.Now dr nauman high profile thoughts which are neither readable nor properly arranged to understand in short time is just waste of time for writers and readers too.

    The one who can read all such details given here successfully would be all time free mind and another left over brain of this country .One can feel the intensity of loss of brain drains which has left such brains behind to create more confusion in this deserted state of intellectuals.