Determinants of Brain Drain in Nigerian Universities: Implications for Personnel Policy

Agbakwu, S.N (1999)

A Thesis Submitted to the School of Postgraduate Studies, University of Lagos

Thesis

Universities are no doubt the repository of expertise in various professional fields. Furthermore, high level human resources in any modern economy is a product of universities or similar tertiary level institutions. Yet, there is a general belief in Nigeria that the academics who are responsible for the production of these high level human resources suffer absolute and relative deprivation vis-a-vis their counterparts in the other sectors or countries where conditions are comparatively better. Thus, this present study investigated the factors that are associated with brain drain in Nigerian universities. Ten hypotheses were formulated for the study. The first four hypotheses were concerned with determining the differences in the perception of income, non-salary conditions of service, area of expertise and individual value system as significant factors in brain drain between academics who have remained and those who have left the university system. The fifth hypothesis was concerned with the ranking of the various individual values by the two groups of academics while the other five tested the relationship between brain drain and respondents biographical characteristics. Descriptive research design was employed. Stratified random sampling technique was used to select nine participating Federal universities from across Nigeria. The sample consisted of 360 subjects - 180 academics drawn from the nine universities and 180 academics who have left the university system. Two research instruments were used to generate the relevant data. The brain drain phenomenon instrument solicited for biographical data about the respondents and as well contained twenty-one items which sought information on income, conditions of service and area of expertise as possible explanations for brain drain. The individual value system, instrument contained twelve items which measured the relative strength of six individual values, namely, theoretical, aesthetic, economic, political, social and religions. In analysing the data, the student-test for independent sampling was employed to test the first four hypotheses while data relating to the fifth hypothesis were analysed using sex separate one-way analysis of variance. Other five hypotheses were analysed utilizing chisquare statistic. The level of significance for each and all tests was set at 5 per cent. The findings of the study revealed that there were no significant differences in the consideration of income and non-salary conditions of service as significant factors in brain drain between academics who have remained and those who have left the university system. The two groups both rated income and non-salary conditions of service very highly as major determinants of the tendency to quit their jobs for more favourable ones. There were significant differences in the consideration of area of expertise and individual value system as significant factors in brain drain between academics who have remained and those who have left the university system. Academics that have left the universities in Nigeria were significantly higher than those who have remained in their rating of area of expertise as well as individual value system as the major determinants in their decision to remain within or leave the university system. Based on the comparison of the ranking of the various individual values, academics that have left the university system were found to be significantly higher on economic and religious values while those who have remained were significantly higher on aesthetic and social values. No significant differences were found with respect to theoretical and political values. While brain drain was found to be independent of academic demographic variables of sex and educational qualification, it was found to be significantly related to age, job experience and marital status, older academics were found to migrate more than their younger counterparts and married teachers appeared to dominate both categories of respondents. The implications of the above findings for personnel policy are numerous. Since it has been established that income is a significant variable in brain drain, a viable option open to academics that remains is to divert their energy into non-intellectual pursuits thus neglecting their primary assignment of teaching and research. The high valuation placed on non-salary conditions of service implies a great desire, by the lecturers, for able leadership coupled with adequate motivational and organisational management policies in the university system to increase productivity. The implication, of the high rating of area of expertise as a factor in brain drain may be faced with the disruption of academic programmes and training of successive junior academics especially with a boom in any related sector of the economy where their expertise will be relevant and better remunerated. Therefore, it is imperative the special incentive packages are provided to attract new aspiring academics as well as motivate and retain those who are still within the system. The high ranking of theoretical and aesthetic values by both groups of academics is not surprising judging from their training and calling. Those who have remained have done so not because they are satisfied but because they have not found an alternative. The implication is that more lecturers are bound to leave the system if appropriate policies and programmes that promote empiricism, intellectualism, beauty, form and symmetry are not put in place.

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