Friday 18 July 2008

Educational Migration and Non-Return in Northern Ireland

The title above is a fancy way of saying 'brain-drain'. It is also the title of a recently published report from the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, which looks at the area previously covered by this blog here:

27 March 2007: Protestant brain drain?
04 June 2007: Getting to grips with the [Protestant] brain drain
21 June 2007: They must be getting REALLY worried ... !
12 June 2008: C'mon over ... but not 'up'

In essence, the new report adds little to the debate on the Protestant brain-drain. It repeats some known statistics, and makes a plea for 'further research'. In a nutshell, it notes that:

- Protestants comprise a disproportionate amount of those leaving NI to study in Great Britain (GB). In 2005/06, 29% of NI domiciled under-graduate students migrated to GB to study, with the proportion of Protestants to Catholics leaving NI being around 1.5 to 1. Some 34% of Protestants leave, compared to 23% of Catholics and 49% of ‘Others’.

- In NI Higher Educational Institutions, Catholics make up 60% of students

- Following graduation, most students in the UK tend to remain in the region of their HE institution. For NI domiciled students, regardless of university attended, 81% are located in NI six months following graduation. Data indicate that of the 29% of NI domiciled undergraduate students in GB, six months after graduation some 19% are still in GB; this suggests that a net 10% of NI domiciles return to NI following graduation.

So, nothing new – Protestant kids are more likely to go to Britain to university, leaving the universities in Northern Ireland more Catholic than normal. The majority of the (disproportionately Protestant) students who go to Britain, do not come back. So the proportion of Catholics in 'graduate level' jobs in Northern Ireland is higher than the general population at that age. A 'greening' of the professions, so to speak.

For those who do not wish to read all 105 pages of this rehash of previously published facts, there is also an accompanying 8-page Research Update which tells you all you need to know.


Anonymous said...

An interesting statistic in the report is that the brain drain, in absolute terms, affects both communities equally.
The numbers show 40% of Catholics go to University compared to 34% of Protestants (which in itself is a shocking statistic). Although, proportionally, in terms of University students - more Protestants migrate, more Catholics go to University (there are also more Catholics at university age). The result appears to be roughly equal numbers from both communities leaving Northern Ireland. 1,217 Protestants and 1,148 Catholics in 2005/6. I think it would be better for both communities if this trend were reversed - and 3rd level particpation among protestants was brough up to the Catholic level.

The majority of college students remaining in Northern Ireland are Catholic, which should lead to a faster growing Catholic middle class.

Democratic-Centre said...

"In essence, the new report adds little to the debate on the Protestant brain-drain. It repeats some known statistics, and makes a plea for 'further research'"

The main key policy aim is that the cap on local universities here needs to be lifted to the level of those that are roughly attaining the grades for Uni entry. The cap is at 2.2% of overall UK, but regionally 3.6% are domicilled in NI who need Uni places.

There is no proof or suitable attitudinal evidence that even with the cap raised the Protestant students would consider staying on here, given different lifestyles (politics, social culture etc) and life experiences from going to Britain. Britain, if you like may be more liberating.

In contrast though, there is a stigma associated with receiving lower A-level grades in that prospective students think they have little to no chance of finding a place locally so they opt for Britain without even considering NI.