African Alumni Project: Study Examines Whether or Not African Students at Western Universities Return to Africa

Journal of Pan African Studies, November 2016 | Go to article overview

African Alumni Project: Study Examines Whether or Not African Students at Western Universities Return to Africa


In 2013, the University of California, Berkeley launched the African Alumni Project (http://africanalumni.berkeley.edu/) in an effort to track what happened to more than 300 scholars from Africa south of the Sahara who graduated from the University of California, Berkeley and five other Western universities in the 1966-to-2014 period. The initiative has now released ' Career Choices, Return Paths and Social Contributions: The African Alumni Project', a report prepared for The MasterCard Foundation of its findings.

The results showed that 45 percent of the graduates of Western universities returned to Africa within 12 months of completing their degrees. Five percent returned to Africa later and 7 percent spent part of their time in Africa and part of their time outside of Africa. A full 43 percent did not return to Africa. And the return rate of Africa has been declining. In the 1970s, 65 percent of the African scholars who earned degrees at Western universities returned to Africa.

Since 2010 the rate is only 40 percent. Graduate students were more likely to return to Africa than undergraduates. African students who majored in health and agricultural disciplines were the most likely to return to Africa. Those that majored in business, law, or engineering were among the least likely to return. Men were more likely to return to Africa than women (women alumni who participated in the study reported daunting institutional and systemic obstacles in Africa such as unemployment, under employment and tensions with organizational leadership. It is crucial that we acknowledge this, and prepare and support young women as they confront these issues).

Overall, the study involves six universities, and has found African university alumni who have studied overseas do continue to contribute to their communities regardless of if they return to Africa. …

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