Pull and Push Factors of Nepali Students’ International Migration
This paper comes as the author’s concerns, as a university faculty and middle class Nepali parent, of the alarming trend of Nepali students’ foreign migration in the last few decades and its socio-economic impact. Having a research question why Nepali students insist on leaving Nepal and going abroad for their higher studies, this paper makes a critical discourse analysis that takes selected stakeholders’ narratives and research interview responses. The key informants selected for interview include the vice chancellor, faculty deans from the faculty of management, science and technology and engineering, former registrar of a university, faculty members and managers of private colleges with their academic programs in information technology, computer science and hotel management studies. The analysis also includes the financial, social and psychological stress of the migrant students and their parents that came through unstructured interviews and focused group discussion besides exploring the literature on the status of higher education in Nepal.
In the last 13 years, 416364 Nepali students obtained No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MOEST) for studying abroad. In fiscal year 2065-066 BS, the number was 24824 which increased by 12.74 percent when this number reached 27978 in 2077-078 (MOEST, 2022). Students’ mobility is a global phenomenon and Nepal is not an exception (Tamang and Shrestha, 2021). Out of 63 different destinations, Australia, Japan, India, Malaysia and the USA were the five most popular countries for Nepali students (Thieme, 2017). Such migration leaves a wide impact on the socio-economic, educational and demographic composition of the country. The expectation of lifting the economic status through ‘earning while learning’, getting motivated from one’s society, search for practical and applicable education abroad, students’ mind-set and global experience, social network with the migrated friends, hopelessness and frustration and lack of faith in conditional improvements at in the home country push the Nepali students out (Upadhyay-Dhungel et al. 2013). Thieme (2017) also agreed that Nepali students’ international mobility constitutes a strategy of desirable livelihood for the middle class students and their families.
This research finds that the trend of students’ mobility has drawn serious concerns for academia and the stakeholders. More precisely, this has raised a serious question on the quality of higher education in Nepal. The other issue is whether these students really learn in the foreign universities and what long term impact the Nepali society can have when the migrated students do not return home after their graduation? The Nepali students’ personal judgment about the absence of quality education and the desirable conditions in their home country needs a critical analysis. It requires a convincing strategy to create a trustworthy education system in Nepal and to meet the parents’ aspiration for a comfortable life for their children that pushes the youths outside the country in spite of several challenges and social psychological stress to be addressed by the state.
Keywords: students’ mobility, higher education in Nepal, earning while learning
MOEST (2022). Shaikshik Suchana( Education Information), Ministry of Education, Science and Technology,Nepalhttps://moest.gov.np/upload_file/files/post/1662279004_1121703348_1658993864_1355852550_Education%20Information%20Book-2078%20MoEST.pdf
Upadhyay-Dhungel, K., Bhattarai, A. & Pangeni, S. (2013). Article International Migration for Education: Perspectives from Nepalese Students. 1. 13-22. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/343968794_Article_International_Migration_for_Education_Perspectives_from_Nepalese_Students
Tamang, M. & Shrestha, M. (2021). Let me Fly Abroad: Student Migrations in the Context of Nepal. Research in Educational Policy and Management. 3. 1-18. 10.46303/repam.2021.1.https://www.researchgate.net/publication/352492207_Let_me_Fly_Abroad_Student_Migrations_in_the_Context_of_Nepal Thieme, S. (2017). Educational consultants in Nepal: professionalization of services for students who want to study abroad. Mobilities, 12(2), 243–258. doi:10.1080/17450101.2017.12927 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17450101.2017.1292780