Slovakia faces brain drain caused by youth emigration

Slovakia faces brain drain caused by youth emigration
Bratislava Castle. Photo: Mike Cho - Unsplash

A report in Balkan Insight has looked at the brain drain facing Slovakia, as many of its young people decide to leave the country to study and work abroad. 

Slovakia is one of the European countries that is most affected by youth emigration, and the trend seems to only be accelerating. About 17% of Slovakian university students are studying outside the country. This is compared to an OECD average of less than 3%. 

Young people leaving the country is not a new phenomenon, having first started in the 1990s. However, this trend gained speed after the country’s accession to the EU in 2004, which opened Europe’s borders to a whole generation of young Slovaks. 

This emigration has also led to a decline in the number of students in Slovakia itself. In 2008, around 241,000 were studying in Slovakia’s higher education system. This has now fallen to 133,000. 

Destinations such as Austria, Germany, France or the UK are popular for young Slovaks. However, the biggest pull is that of neighbouring Czechia, with 70% of Slovaks studying abroad choosing to attend its free and higher-ranked universities. More than 20,000 Slovak students are currently enrolled in Czechia, and over 230,000 Slovaks are employed in the country, double the number of ten years ago. 

Experts want that from demographic and economic standpoints, Slovakia’s youth emigration will only deepen the country’s existing problems. However, it is also hoped that many young Slovaks who move abroad will only do some temporarily and will return to the country to spend the majority of their adult life there. 

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