This research project examined the reasons for highly-qualified young people from developing countries, especially from Africa, for leaving their country. Excessive emigration whereby young, talented individuals do not return to their native countries has an extremely negative effect known as the brain drain. The study aimed at gaining a better understanding of the expectations relating to migration that are cited by young people: What are the reasons for leaving their country, but also what are the reasons that could lead them to stay?
The research carried out allowed to refine migration theories by identifying the factors that persuade or dissuade individuals to leave. Three options have been studied: long-term emigration (leave), local anchoring (stay), and commuting between several spaces (move around). The research team has investigated the reasons for migration and alternatives among students at Niamey University (Niger), Cocody-Abidjan (Ivory Coast) and in Gaston-Berger – Saint-Louis (Senegal). Through the involvement of geographers, sociologists and architects, the individual and collective economic, social and spatial dimensions of the phenomena were taken into ‘account.tutional’ design.
This paper attempts better to apprehend the mixed motivations that lead to international migration amongst young West African university students. We use an original survey dataset based on standardized questionnaires collected among more than 4000 students in Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal and Niger. Multivariate statistical methods and interviews allow us to test a series of hypotheses linking the intensity of the intention to migrate to the perceived situation in the country of origin as well as to perceptions of the destination country in terms of economic prospects, political freedom, gender relations, opportunities for personal development, etc. We analyze conjointly intervening factors such as gender, age, ethnicity, financial resources, past migration history or networks, and put the results into perspective with contemporary migration theory. Our findings contrast strongly with the stereotypical idea that the sole dream of young Africans is to migrate to Western countries, pushed by dissatisfaction at home and lured by the sirens of an imaginary paradise abroad. Their motivations for migration, on the contrary, are mainly based in a rational awareness of the pros and cons of moving. Most students wish to leave only temporarily, in order to improve their human capital and to acquire degrees abroad. Furthermore, formulating a migration project remains a luxury; those who can afford to do so tend to be wealthier and have a higher level of social capital at the outset.
The objective of this research is to understand whether and how temporary or sustainable migration is envisaged by students at three West African universities. After an in-depth theoretical overview, the study analyses a questionnaire completed by more than 4000 students and isolates a series of factors that contribute to generating initial intentions: family networks abroad, the degree of progress in studies, lack of confidence in the country’s future, the family’s favourable attitude, etc. Conversely, ethnic and religious variables, as well as the degree of dissatisfaction with living conditions or resources, play little role. Contrary to a widespread image in the media and political debates in industrialized countries, migration intentions are not a headlong rush but appear to be thoughtful and proactive. Students are relatively well informed and their migration intentions, most of them temporary, are based on a balance of interests in terms of training and work experience for a productive return to the country. The study therefore calls for a better articulation of mobility and development policies, which can enhance the migration potential and thirst for knowledge identified in the three countries studied.
This report presents in detail the results and progress of a case study on Niger as part of the research project “Leave or Stay? Migration in the life project of university students in West Africa”, funded by the Swiss Network for International Studies (SNIS), between October 2008 and September 2010. The case study can be read for itself by the reader interested in the country concerned, but the theoretical foundations and overall methodological options are presented in the synthesis report. Two other case studies were carried out, one in Côte d’Ivoire and the other in Senegal.
This report presents in detail the results and progress of a case study on Côte d’Ivoire as part of the research project “Leave or Stay? Migration in the life project of university students in West Africa”, funded by the Swiss Network for International Studies (SNIS), between October 2008 and September 2010. The case study can be read for itself by the reader interested in the country concerned, but the theoretical foundations and overall methodological options are presented in the synthesis report. Two other case studies were carried out, one in Niger and the other in Senegal.
This national report for Senegal is one of three components of the international study on the desire/no desire for migration of African students, entitled “To leave or to stay? Migration in the life project of university students in West Africa”, funded by the Swiss Network for International Studies (SNIS). This research began in October 2008 and is expected to be completed by September 30, 2010. One part of the study was carried out in Côte d’Ivoire (Abidjan, University of Cocody) under the direction of Raffaele Poli, another in Niger (University of Niamey) under the direction of Patrick Gilliard, the whole being coordinated and directed by Professor Etienne Piguet of the University of Neuchâtel and Denise Efionayi-Maeder of the Swiss Forum for Migration and Population Studies.
While European countries have devoted considerable resources to efforts to block the flow of irregular migration, they have at the same time been vying with one another to attract the best minds and solve the problem of demographic ageing. How do African students navigate through such contradictory policies? This chapter discusses the plans for international migration as expressed by university students from three West African countries (Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, and Niger). Based in particular on a questionnaire distributed to around 4,000 students, the study identifies a series of factors contributing to students’ intention to migrate: family networks abroad, level of educational attainment, lack of confidence in their country’s future, supportive attitude of family members, etc. Contrary to the widespread assumptions expressed in the media and in policy debates in industrialised countries, ‘migration intentions’ appear to be carefully pondered and proactive in nature, rather than impulsive headlong rushes. Students are relatively well informed, and their intentions to undertake what is mostly temporary migration are based on a weighing of their interests in terms of education and professional experience. This article therefore calls for improved coordination of mobility and development policies to unlock the potential of migration while satisfying the thirst for knowledge identified in the three countries concerned.
This paper addresses the drivers of migration intentions amongst francophone West African university students. We use an original dataset collected from more than 4000 students in Côte d’Ivoire, Niger, and Senegal. Multivariate methods allow us to link the intention to migrate with the characteristics of students, with their opinion regarding mobility as well as with the perceived situation of their country of origin. We analyze intervening factors such as ethnicity, financial resources, past migration history, and social networks, and put the results into perspective with migration theory. Our results show that migration intentions are complex processes: the national context plays a role, but family support and networks are important. Generally, only a minority of students wish to leave and then only temporarily, to improve their human capital upon return.
University of Neuchâtel
Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne
Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques en Côte d’Ivoire
Ecole polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne