Muslim World Needs to Prevent Brain Drain to West, President Erdoğan Says

The Muslim world has been losing intelligent students to the West as part of brain drains, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on July 26, stressing that they should find ways to prevent the emigration from happening.

“We need to carry measures that will prevent this brain drain, which is causing our science world to become a desert, into effect as soon as possible,” Erdoğan said in an event on higher education in the Muslim world at the Beştepe Presidential Complex in Ankara.

Saying that there were only a few universities from the Muslim world among the top 500 universities in the world, he added that the brightest youths were moving to Western countries.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

“On top of that, we are transferring very serious amounts of money to Western countries for this. After these students complete their academic studies, we naturally expect them to return to their countries and serve their own people. But most of the time, those finishing their schools do not return to their homelands, but stay where they received education,” he noted.

“This situation is definitely affected by reasons like not being able to give up on the life standards they got used to. But I believe that we, as heads of states, need to think of the real reasons that distance our youth from ourselves,” Erdoğan added.

Erdoğan said that while OECD countries allocated 5.2 percent of their national budget to education, this number could not even reach 1 percent in the Muslim world, adding that education was one of the priorities of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

“Like in every society in the Muslim world, we stay away from issues that demand endeavor and patience. If we are unsuccessful in raising a generation that asks, questions, and has ambitions for the future, a generation running after temporary whims emerges. We face the fact that nations that cannot develop unique educations systems cannot determine their future,” he noted.

“The most important responsibility falls on the shoulders of our universities. Universities are the production centers of science and unique and free thoughts. Every kind of idea that is not contaminated with terror and that does not encourage violence has a place and should have a place in the university,” he said.

During his address, Erdoğan also asked Council of Higher Education (YÖK) president Yekta Saraç to make the Mevlana exchange program – which aims to promote the exchange of students and academic staff between Turkish and foreign universities – a more advanced one by adding more countries, especially those in the Muslim world.

“My request from the YÖK president is that he becomes a pioneer in starting joint and double degree programs between 15 of our universities and Muslim countries’ universities that joined this meeting,” he said.

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