Turkish scheme to confront brain drain

November 9, 2001

Turkey is launching an initiative to stem brain drain and reduce the country's reliance on imported technology.

The State Planning Agency is working with the Istanbul Technical University across six academic fields. Funding has been provided for a "developed technology" masters and doctorate programme to attract the country's top students.

ITU rector Gulsun Saglamer said the programme would also address the lack of qualified academics. "Turkey has lost immense resources due to lack of well-educated and qualified people. The country is unable to produce its own technology and is therefore forced to import technology at an immense cost."

The project has two strands, Dr Saglamer said. "The first part aims to construct the environment necessary to invent technology; the second is to keep promising students in the country. Our aim is to develop human resources to work in research and development and to educate people to US standards."

Two factors driving emigration are poor facilities and low pay. For the past 20 years, higher education has lost funding while student numbers have soared. High inflation over the past decade has also hurt higher education.

Istar Gozaydin, a professor at ITU, said that the initiative faced a difficult problem. "Last year my salary was about 960 million lira (£420) a month; now it is less than 640 million. Every year my salary loses value."

Many academics are forced to supplement their income with second or even third jobs, or rely on support from their families.

It is unclear whether the project extends to increasing salaries, although Dr Saglamer acknowledged that it is a key issue.

"We are working to provide students with the best in the field, and we are also keeping in mind that successful people also need good pay."

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