According to UNESCO, some 18,000 Albanian students are studying abroad. Furthermore, 94% of them do not want to return to Albania.
While studying abroad, they spend between EUR 10,000 and EUR 15,000 a year on living expenses. This is some EUR 180 million a year that the Albanian economy is losing out on. The loss of potential investment is even higher when you consider that the majority will not return.
The state budget for education in Albania is EUR 360 million a year. This budget is expected to cover everything including teacher salaries and construction of schools throughout the next year.
Half of what the Albanian state makes available for education in a year is spent by Albanian families to educate 18,000 students abroad.
Out of those students that study in Albania, the most educated and successful, also want to leave.
According to the Gallup World Poll for the period 2010-2015, Albania was ranked sixth in the world in terms of the percentage of adults who plan to migrate. Albania remains as the only European country in the top 10 which is mostly populated by African countries.
Dr Ilir Gëdeshi of the Center for Economic and Social Studies said that after the economic crisis of 2013, the phenomenon of emigration in Albania has affected the most qualified part of the country and not the unemployed.
“People who are more qualified, educated, employed and those who have above-average salaries want to leave Albania,” he said.
The tendency to emigrate from Albania has increased compared to 10 years ago. Currently, 52% of the Albanian population aged 18-40 want to leave, while only a decade ago this figure was 44%. Other polls put the figure of those that want to leave as high as 83% with those who are actively planning to leave at 49%.
According to Gëdeshi, the desire for emigration is strongly expressed among Albanian students studying abroad.
“If we look at people who go abroad to be educated, without a doubt we can say that Albania is among the first countries in the world in terms of the number of students compared to the population. In the countries of the Western Balkans, Albania has the absolute number of students studying abroad. Currently, according to UNESCO are 18,000 but these are the figures of 2018. From the surveys, we have done it results that 94% do not want to return to the country after completing their studies. That’s the loss for the country. ”
The reasons that push Albanians to emigrate are mainly economic but Gëdeshi also added that the influence of other factors:
“In recent polls, it turns out that in addition to economic factors, the desire to leave is also about the future. People do not feel safe about their future and this then links to many issues related to education, health, security, social life. ”
Despite the pessimistic picture that promotes the reality of emigration in Albania, the researcher was optimistic about the future. According to him, the problem lies in the “change of politics in Albania”:
“To change, we must transform economic, political and social life. Opening new jobs, perspectives in them and improving the services that citizens receive.”