First sign of Argentine exodus

March 1, 2002

Argentina's universities are facing a dramatic increase in the number of graduates seeking validation of their academic qualifications for recognition abroad, which could spell the start of a mass exodus.

The country faces a deepening recession, with unemployment close to a record high of 22 per cent. The Universidad Nacional de La Plata told the Buenos Aires national daily Clarín last month that applications since December had risen from a weekly average of three to almost 50.

UNLP, which awards more than 4,000 diplomas a year, said that 80 per cent of validation applicants were graduates in medicine and dentistry and that most were headed for Spain or Italy. Linguistic similarity, aid with obtaining citizenship and long-standing agreements for diploma recognition were the main reasons for the choice of countries. The Universidad de Buenos Aires and the Universidad Nacional de Rosario confirmed similar trends.

But an estimated 50 per cent of Argentine doctoral students studying at European universities are considering returning home after their government's total withdrawal of grant funding four months ago due to cutbacks.

Juan Carlos Pugliese, the education ministry's secretary for university policy, said that his focus was on the country's high undergraduate dropout rate: 50 per cent in first year, with 8 per cent graduating within the required time.

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