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11 Jan 11

Romanians Stay Abroad After Earning Degrees

Tens of thousands of Romanian students are heading abroad to study, and many don't plan to come back home.

Marian Chiriac
Bucharest

Almost two thirds of Romanian students currently studying abroad don't intend to return home after finishing their studies, as the prospects of finding a suitable job or establishing a successful career in academics or research are poor, according to a recently released survey.

“The number of people who go abroad to study has increased in recent years. They invest years to earn a coveted university degree but unfortunately, in the end they prefer to look for a job abroad rather than return home,” says Irina Nicoleta Scarlat from Liga Studentilor Romani din Strainatate, LSRS, the organisation which published the survey on Monday.

There are currently between 22,000 and 50,000 Romanian students studying abroad. Their numbers vary according to different estimations as there is no single organisation that addresses this group of Romanians. Most are studying in the United States and the United Kingdom.

“I’ve decided to go to America as there are so many prestigious universities and besides, one can easily get a scholarship,” says Andrei Anghel, a third year student at Harvard, where he is studying molecular biology. “In the future, I hope to become a renowned scientist abroad rather than a frustrated researcher in Romania.”

For pupils from prosperous and well-educated families, studying abroad is not only easier, it's also popular. Around 23 per cent of children whose parents are members of parliament and 41 per cent of children of members of the government have studied abroad, according to a report published on Monday by Bucharest daily Romania Libera.

Fresh graduates see a good university degree as a panacea against unemployment and would like to have a monthly salary of at least Euro 1000 upon their return to Romania. This proves difficult for many.

"I never expected it would be so hard to find a position that matches my qualifications," says Iulia Tanase, 26, who got a degree in political science at a university in the United Kingdom. She is now taking classes to become a chartered accountant. A fresh start increasingly seems the only way out for hundreds of young graduates like Tanase, who have realised there is almost no demand in Romania for their hard-earned degrees.

Experts say that the country has no need for so many humanities students- teachers, lawyers, economists and managers- while there is a shortage of skilled workers in traditional blue collar jobs. Furthermore, despite many reforms in recent years,  Romania's educational system remains rigid, with weak vocational training and poor coordination with the labour market.

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