NI students studying in GB creating 'brain drain'

University library with students studying

Northern Ireland continues to lose huge numbers of young people to elsewhere in the UK for study and work, according to a new report from Pivotal.

The think tank found around 17,500 students here are enrolled in courses in England, Scotland and Wales.

That's enough students to fill an entire university.

Historically, around two-thirds of those who move away do not return to Northern Ireland when they graduate.

That means over 11,000 young people currently studying in Great Britain are expected not to return home, according to Pivotal.

The report says that 'brain drain' is losing talent that is essential for Northern Ireland economic growth.

Director of Pivotal Ann Watt said: "The so-called 'brain drain' is a long-term and persistent challenge for Northern Ireland.

"It is one of the reasons that Northern Ireland struggles with a low skilled workforce and a shortage of people with higher level qualifications.

"Despite all this, little effort has been made to attract or retain graduates.

"Educational migration is a serious challenge for Northern Ireland but there are currently no policies in place to deal with it."

Pivotal has called on the Executive to address the problem and to consider 'enhanced investment within the knowledge economy' as part of their wider economic strategy.

Ms Watt added: "Northern Ireland is the only devolved nation that has reduced investment in higher education in recent years. Successive budget cuts over the past decade have resulted in a current 'structural deficit' for local universities."

The study also found students from the Republic of Ireland come to Northern Ireland to study, but that these gains fall short of offsetting the numbers leaving for Great Britain.