Sidste Nyt fra Albanien, Kosóva og Makedonien

Serbien og Montenegro

The Latest News from Albania, Kosóva and Macedonia

# 275 - 21.10.2005    PDF for printing

Udgiver: Bjørn Andersen

Publisher: Bjoern Andersen

Entering or escaping? A school in Tirana. Photo: Bjoern Andersen, 2004

Entering or escaping? A school in Tirana. Photo: Bjoern Andersen, 2004

Albanian Brain Drain

Emigration of the intellectual elite

By Assoc. Prof. Andrea Koxhaj and Assoc. Prof. Fatmir Mema



Present Empirical Evidence on the Dimensions of Brain Drain

The Factors Influencing the Brain Drain Phenomenon Within the Higher Education Sector as well as Outside of this Sector in the Given Country of the Region

The Prevailing Common Causes of Brain Drain

Analysis of the Main Transformation in the Intellectual Labour Market in Albania

Recommendations with Regard to Possible Future Policies and Possible Common Lines of Action at the Institutional, National, and Regional Levels




After 1990, Albania faced a process of massive migration. This process had to do with the massive migration of the population abroad, especially of young people, the middle aged population and the migration of many families from the rural areas to urban areas, especially from the north part of Albania to its central part.

This process of massive migration took three basic forms:
1. The emigration and the internal migration of the population looking for a better standard of living abroad or in urban areas of the country (particularly in Tirana, the capital city). This phenomenon, very common in the early 1990s, is still happening today.

2. The migration of the elite intellectuals toward Western Europe, the United States of America, and Canada etc. Elite emigration started in the early 1990s, but grew significantly after 1995. This phenomenon is still present today and is estimated to continue.

3. The emigration or internal migration of businessmen. In a situation when to run a business was very difficult, many businessmen chose to close or to sell their businesses and to leave the country or to move to developed urban areas to open a new business or seek attractive employment.
Each of the above-mentioned forms of migration have had a deep impact on the social and economic development of Albania and at the same time have influenced a non-balanced development among the regions of Albania. It should be emphasized that the migration of the intellectual elite and business community has had the deepest impact in the above-mentioned problems.

Today, brain drain is highlighting a contradiction between the right of Albanian society to be developed based on the intellectual capacity of Albanian intellectuals and the individual’s right to leave the country for a better life. This contradiction exists because the intellectual elite migration is negatively affecting the country’s development potential.

Present Empirical Evidence on the Dimensions of Brain Drain

The grave social-economic situation of the country and its immediate opening to the world with the beginning of transition, are the main contributing factors to the real or potential emigration of the specialists.

The flight of intellectual labour occurs in four forms:
1. Direct migration. There are two kinds of migration, in this regard, the emigration of the intellectual elite toward the Western Europe, the United States of America, Canada and even toward remote countries like Australia. It should also be noted that there are many cases where Albanian intellectuals have migrated to Eastern Europe and even to Israel, with those that migrated to Eastern Europe, after having blood ties in those countries. During the 1950s, many Albanians, who went abroad for study purposes, got married to locals and as a result their children have their relatives there. Likewise, for a long time in Albania there were a small group of Israelis. After 1990, nearly all Israelis left Albania for Israel, and many well-known intellectuals of different fields were among them.

2. The intellectuals that did not return after a short and medium period of specialization. After 1990, many intellectuals that worked in scientific institutions and university professors were sent abroad for training. In many cases they decided to stay in their respective countries. Unfortunately, in many cases they worked in jobs that were not related to their specializations or qualifications. However, there are also cases when they have found better jobs and in rare cases they found jobs that commensurate with their specialisations and qualifications.

3. Those who did not return back after graduation in a given country. This was mainly graduates and other young specialists, working as researchers in scientific institutions or as assistant professors in universities. They had received scholarships for Master’s or doctoral degrees in Western Europe or the USA, and who did not returned to Albania after graduation. They may have settled in the country were they studied or moved to another country. Generally they have found jobs that satisfied their specializations and qualifications. A part of this group are students enrolled in foreign universities abroad, and who after graduation preferred to stay abroad rather than return to Albania.

4. Employment by international organizations in African and Asian countries. Specialists that worked as local staff with international organizations or institutions composes another group. The number of these specialists was quite large during the crises of 1997. As some of them had earned a good reputation, continued to worked with international organizations even during the crisis in Kosovo and at present are engaged as international staff members working with these institutions and work in different countries according to the needs of the institution. Some of them now work in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The phenomenon of the emigration of Albanian intellectual elite demonstrates its relatively well-defined characteristics that distinguish it from mass emigration. Even though the overall figure seems difficult to correctly define, it is considerable and it should be given particular attention.

The motives for leaving are clearly based on the attraction of developed countries, particularly, the higher salaries, better working conditions, political stability, as well as the opportunities for a better education for their children. In the Albanian case the last factor (better education of children) is very strong among the motives for emigration.

Another factor is the rapid expansion of research and development (R&D), because the opportunities for scientific employment are much better in developed countries than in Albania. In this respect, the problem is not only the need for higher salaries, but also the necessity for better work conditions, greater opportunities for access to the modern literature and meetings with foreign specialists in different fields.

In these conditions, universities and scientific institutions lack the best young specialists who could replace specialists that migrate abroad, or who leave in order to work in other places inside the country (international institutions, public administration or in the private sector) or who retire. The impact of internal brain flight is deeper in the scientific institutions and in the district universities.

The current system of financing scientific research actually does not reduce migration of research staff, since extra earnings that can be obtained are considerably lower than salaries abroad. However, the value of the financing of units and grants in a moderate way does counteract the passage of research staff to other occupations at home whilst industry can have a positive effect on salary levels, it does not offer intellectual satisfaction and do not counteract brain flight.

The findings and analysis done by Albanian researchers regarding brain drain 1. (the intellectual elite or the most qualified stratification of Albanian intelligence) showed that the number of pedagogues and researchers who emigrated from Albanian universities and scientific institutions, during the period 1990 - March 1998, is considerable.

The emigration of the intellectual elite from Albania has some main characteristics:
1. They were mainly young researchers and university staff. This characteristic is based on the fact that old researchers found it difficult to integrate into the life style of the host country. The integration process for them was difficult not only because of their age and social status but also because they generally only knew the Russian language and were accustomed to the Russian style of work, which is quite different from the western style. On the other hand, the young researchers and young university professors were energetic and full of vitality because of their age, which made integration into the host community much easier. Also they knew western foreign languages (or they found them less difficult to learn quickly) and, what is more important, they were not accustomed to the Russian work style.

2. The majority are men (estimated to be more than 2/3 of the overall number). We think that this fact is as a result of the dominant patriarchal psychology in Albanian society. It is generally presumed that Albanian males can adapt with fewer problems to conditions of another country.

3. They are increasingly unmarried. During the first years of the transition period the number of unmarried specialists was small. We assume that this was result of the fact that during the first transition years the specialization and training courses were given to middle-aged specialists, as their contribution during the years had been bigger and also they were eager to see Western Europe. It was thought that young specialists (generally unmarried) had the time to specialize later on.

4. The majority have emigrated with their families (estimated to be 2/3 of the overall number). The Albanian family even nowadays is based on strong traditional linkages. These linkages are strong not only with the immediate family but also with other blood relatives. In these conditions, many specialists after they have decided to settle in a foreign country and after their training, take the decision to be joined immediately by their family members. An important factor is the aspiration that children have a better education than theirs.
Another discernible feature of intellectual elite emigration is its occurrence after massive emigration. It coincides in time with the opening up of the state borders and the radical, liberal, economic reform implementations that were largely painful to the population. These reforms brought about a sharp fall in real salaries and huge lay-offs in the scientific institutions of the country. In 1991, 1992 and 1993, the number of emigrating intellectuals reached it climax.

The increased intensity of intellectual elite emigration from Albania coincides with the decrease in production and living standards. Starting from the year 1993, the number of intellectuals and the intensity of intellectual elite emigration slowed down. This was mainly due to tight emigration policies adopted by the countries of Western Europe, under conditions of a slow down in economic growth and increasing unemployment, and the relative improvement of some macroeconomic indicators in Albania, up until the end of 1996.

Intellectual emigration from Albania increased in 1997 due to a new economic collapse and the social breakdown in the form of a popular revolt and political chaos. The new trend confirms once again the hypothesis raised at the beginning of the study that the difficult social-economic situation of the country along with the immediate opening of the country to the world, are the main explanatory factors for the brain drain phenomenon.

Once again it should be mentioned that the number of the intellectual emigrants is estimated to have decreased after 1998, but according to some researches it is estimated to be still high.

From the overall figure of the intellectual elite who have emigrated since 1990, a considerable number have been very qualified people with scientific degrees and titles.

The massive impoverishment of the scientific elite and intellectuals has had important social-economic impacts. It is accompanied by a drastic deprecation of »intellectual capital«, which benefits speculative and corruptive activities and hampers the future formation of technical and scientific intelligence that the country badly needs. Meanwhile, the accentuated inequality regarding income distribution is another contributing factor to social-economic demoralization and has brought about a deep crisis of economic and moral motivation. It helps the generalization of the behaviour concentrated in the short run that impedes the elite formation and has great impact on the emigration of the intellectuals inside and outside the country.

If we aim to analyse the emigration of intellectual elites within the period, we have to stress that the trends are testimony to the fact that intellectual elite emigration from Albania is increasingly turning into permanent emigration.

Completion of graduate studies or postgraduate specializations in a given country, are other major factors predetermining the emigration destination of intellectual elite. Indeed, a large number of intellectuals, who have mainly completed their specializations in Western Europe, spending periods of several months or several years have decided not to return to Albania. This phenomenon is more frequent for those who spend six or twelve months or more outside Albania.

Other factors for choosing destination countries is conditioned by factors such as cultural affinity, previous familiarity with certain social circles, better chances of affording to live and job permits, language proficiency, better chances to be integrated into society, and the level of development in scientific research, etc.

Very often, intellectuals that form the most qualified and specialized group of the intellectual elite, emigrate mainly to countries where they had previously attended graduate and postgraduate studies. The remaining group of intellectuals emigrate to neighbouring countries, thereby contributing to a massive emigration.

Based on available data, we can separate the country groups where emigrated intellectuals have settled.
The first group is composed of Greece and Italy. In these two countries the number of emigrants is considerably high, whereas the correlation with specialization-emigration, especially in the case of Greece, is weak. Geographical proximity, reduced preliminary emigration costs, economic, cultural and historical links should be accepted as factors that have contributed to the Albanian intellectual emigration towards these countries, even though in these countries there are barriers to the free movement of people.

The second group includes host countries where the correlation with specialization-emigration is strong. Amongst these countries, France should be high-lighted, due to the large number of intellectuals who have emigrated there. Relationships between Albania and France have been good during the 1980’s and French authorities, as in Italy, have taken appropriate measures conducive to Albanian intellectual specialization. The Albanian authorities reciprocated this friendly attitude. Consequently, many Albanian students have completed their studies in France and a part of them have been involved in Doctoral studies.

The third group involves countries that are either culturally or geographically distant. In addition, fellows that go for specialization purposes in these countries, take along other family members. This group is dominated by the United States and Canada.

A big problem is the lack of data regarding the number of graduates who emigrated or left the country for an indeterminate period. Albanian universities have no information on their former students after graduation. The psychology of universities is that they have no more obligations to the students, who have graduated. Even if they remain in Albania there are no records on whether or not they are working and/or have emigrated.

The Factors Influencing the Brain Drain Phenomenon Within the Higher Education Sector as well as Outside of this Sector in the Given Country of the Region

a. Economic Factors

Compared with some other economies in transition of the countries of the Central and Eastern Europe, real emigration of Albanian intellectuals is higher than in these countries and Albanian researchers evaluate it to be around one-third. Results achieved in the studies of intellectual elite emigration show that in this case we face a phenomenon determined primarily by economic factors 2. It doesn’t exclude even the influence of other factors such as social-political instability of the country, psychological factors and the limited budget that government devotes to education and research.

The paced growth in incomes of scientific institutions and universities has been far lower that of the financial institutions and public administration. As a result, employees of scientific institutions and universities feel undervalued and underpaid. This is one importance for them to leave their jobs. The monthly salary of a university professor with title »Professor« is 63,500 leks or 470 Euro, the monthly salary of a head director in public administration is 83,000 leks or 615 Euro, or 1.31 times higher that the salary of the professor. We should emphasize that during the communist regime (before 1990) and even 4-5 years ago the salaries of these two categories were at the same levels.

As it has already been mentioned, at the private and public sector (financial institutions and public administration) are in a privilege position, while the remaining parts of public sector, including education, science and health care, are being discriminated against as they offer low salaries. This situation explains the magnitude of emigration and internal brain flight from science and higher education.

The financial means accorded by the state budget are insufficient. The tables below show the data regarding the funds given to the University of Tirana, the biggest university in the country with nearly 40 per cent of the total number of the students. The source of this data is the Ministry of Education. It was very difficult to find this data. Funds from national projects and from the bilateral projects, are insufficient and are not constant (the exchange rate is 1 Euro=130-140 lek, varying during the period.).

National Project Expenditures 2000-2003 (thousands lek)

University     National Programs      
  2000   2001   2002  
  Salaries Total Salaries Total Salaries Total
University of Tirana 271.8 4,900 -   - 100 3,000

Source: Ministry of Education and Science

Bilateral Project Expenditures 2000-2003 (thousands lek)

University   Bilateral Program  
  2000 2001 2002
University of Tirana -   - 1,335.8

Source: Ministry of Education and Science

It was not possible to find data regarding funds received from institutions and international programs. There is no evidence of a centre or institution in Albania having received funds from international institutions or programs for Albanian scientific institutions or universities.

b. Socio-Political Instability of the Country

The social-political instability factor has had a deep impact in Albania. We should emphasise that after the radical political changes in December 1990, the country was involved in social turmoil and total anarchy. In 1991, many state properties were destroyed in particular state enterprises. There is some evidence that after this destruction, in some cases, fires were deliberately started to hide organised destruction.

The political forces during that period, the forces that where in power and the opposition, accused each other of being responsible for the turmoil. The ex-communists, which where in power (the left forces), accused the right democratic forces that in the name of the »shock therapy« theory they were destroying everything to start the reconstruction from zero. At the same time, the right forces accused the forces in power of organising groups whose sole purpose was to destroy enterprises and to burn them to conceal their footprints. The same thing even happened even to properties of the agricultural co-operatives in all Albanian districts.

Even during the crisis the political forces accused each other of being responsible for the problems the country was facing. In order to support the government and to keep the peace, the European Military Operation »Alba« landed in 1997. In the spring of 1997, pre-elections were held and the left forces came into power, but once again no one was convicted for the destruction.

A smaller wave of destruction took place in the fall of 1998 in the capital city after a member of the parliament, Azem Hajdari, who belonged to the right forces, was murdered. The same story of revolts, distractions, plunders of small shops in the centre of the capital city occurred again. The government lost control of the country for one to two days. Once more no one was found responsible for the disorder.

Corruption and many other problems are the focal points of fighting among political forces today. To the intellectuals these fights are more than confrontation of points of view and platforms, but fights for power.

Many Albanian intellectuals are very sceptical regarding an improvement of their economic situation and their works conditions in the short term, characterized by such comments as »do not see any light at the end of the tunnel«. The total darkness at the end of the tunnel is a strong incentive to migrate abroad.

c. Psychological Factors

The psychological factors have always been a strong incentive for intellectual emigration. In this unclear situation with many oscillations of the social and economical situation and with high levels of corruption, it is logic that the desire of intellectuals to leave the country has increased. According to the Corruption Perception Index, for the year 2004, Albanian is the 92nd place, much worse than the other Balkan countries, except for Serbia and Montenegro.

The functioning economical development of the country has created in many intellectuals the mentality of a »lost generation« with no-hope. Many of them also have doubts about the future of their children. In conditions where they do not see any future for themselves and their children within the country, they are seeing emigration as the solution for the future of their children.

The high level of corruption has brought a psychological breakdown among intellectuals. Many have come to realise that the main possibility for a normal or a better life, is corruption.

Application of the amendment to article 24/1 in the Law of »Civil Code« in 1992 regarding the expulsion of employees from public administration, universities and state institutions without any reason (based on the restructuring process) had a very bad impact on the intellectual elite psychology. Based on this law, many institutional managers, university professors and researchers of the scientific institutions were expelled because of their political beliefs.

As a result they were forced to leave the country, to start working in private businesses or to try to open their own businesses. This meant abandoning forever an academic career.

The expel campaigns served as a strong psychological incentive for the intellectuals to leave the country. Unfortunately, no any institution has any record regarding the number of specialists expelled from their jobs or management positions during this period.

All these factors added to the impact of psychological factors on the tendency for the Albanian intellectual elite to emigrate. Based on the fact that some of the intellectuals who emigrated found a better financial lifestyle compared with their former colleagues in Albania, there is a belief among the Albanian intellectuals that »Albanians are better off outside their own country«. So, psychologically, many Albanian intellectuals considered emigration one of the main opportunities for a better life.

The Prevailing Common Causes of Brain Drain

An analysis of the activities of emigrated intellectuals in host countries reveals interesting results. Based on personal and other colleague’s surveys of emigration of the intellectual elite from Albania, relating to activities, it is clear that there are two groups of emigrated intellectuals.
The first group is those intellectuals who do not work in the area of their specialisation. This is undoubtedly determined by a lot of factors. Among them are: the emigration policies pursued by these countries, the correlation between emigration and specialization, the development of the scientific sector, the quality of intellectual emigration flows, etc. The available data for the United States, for instance, shows that emigration policies pursued by this country are not necessarily aimed at evaluating the knowledge and the experience of those coming into the United States, but rather at preserving the already achieved qualification level of the population 3.

The quality of intellectual emigration flows is a very important factor because it consists of high levels of competition to find employment in the »while collar« professions. Therefore, emigrated intellectuals often find it hard to find employment in their own profession.

The second group, are the intellectuals who are integrated with universities, laboratories, and scientific institutions or with the manufacturing or services system of Western Europe and the United States. Emigration of this section of the intellectual elite, undoubtedly the most qualified and specialized, from one point of view is an irreplaceable loss for Albanian society, and it is having a negative economic, social, and political impact today and will continue to do so in the future.

Of course, these intellectuals were the most qualified and the majority of them have had the possibility to specialise at Western universities and scientific institutions for short, medium and long periods of time. From the qualitative point of view, as a consequence of brain drain, there has been a loss of a lot of specialization months abroad.

In the scientific, social, economic and political fields this could accelerate even the preparation of the country’s integration with the European Community. Such a precedent (but in other fields) has already been created in the country. It is a well-known fact that a portion of direct foreign investment, during the transition in Albania is the result of encouragement of foreign firms by emigrated Albanians in the countries of their employment.

Whereas, in the case of their feasible return back home, this group of intellectual elites, undoubtedly educated with contemporary theories, methods and scientific applications in Europe and the United States, is capable, not only of reviving the institutions, laboratories and university chairs, but of giving new impulses to the economic, social and political life of the country. In the future, the extent of these intellectual elite returning home will be determined by the level of moral and material conditions that will be created in Albania.

On a broader note, we can raise the question: what are the general impacts of intellectual elite emigration on the development of Albanian society? From this point of view, as mentioned before, the emigrated intellectual elite represent the younger, urban, and educated population that have travelled or lived abroad. In general, this part of the population is familiar with the values of democracy and a market economy, therefore these activities even outside their own areas of expertise, could be conducive to facilitating the successful development of the transition process in Albania.

Another positive impact of intellectual emigration, in the short run, might be the diminishing pressure on the domestic labour market. However, we think that this factor has no powerful role, not just because of the fact that the intellectual elite do not form a large part of the labour market, and that the intellectual elite can be easier adopted in the Albanian market or can open new business encouraging employment, reducing in this way the pressure of unemployment.

Now is the time to emphasize that many departed intellectuals (those integrated with universities, laboratories and scientific institutions or with the manufacturing or services system) have started to turn their eyes towards Albania, encouraging in this way many foreign companies to locate in the country and also organizing relationships and cooperation between universities and scientific institutions particularly through different projects.

In our opinion those inclined to emigrate to the United States or Canada, the main reasons are the higher living standards, language, and better employment possibilities. Whereas, those willing to emigrate to neighbouring countries, Italy and Greece, do so because of geographical vicinity, language, friends and family, and job prospects. Whereas, for Germany, the reasons are country familiarity, better scientific work conditions, language and higher living standards.

Based on the current characteristics of actual emigration, given that over two-third of the intellectual elite working out of the scientific sector, we could say that even potential emigration would result in actual emigration and this would be »brain waste« rather than »brain drain«. This is enforced by the facts that for large groups of the Albanian intellectual elite like economists, philosophers, historians, sociologists, etc, who belong to social sciences, there is no market demand in Western countries, for their skills and education.

Analysis of the Main Transformation in the Intellectual Labour Market in Albania

Albania needs to create a more favourable environment for foreign direct investment especially for big corporations to establish branches. These corporations will expand the intellectual labour market through employing skilled specialist in various disciplines.

Until now the intellectual labour market has expanded in modern services for enterprises, banking, finances, and information as well as in some technical specialities. The problem is that this market is fairly chaotic and divided into segments. On the other hand, there is a quasi-market encompassing public enterprises (and the so-called »budgetary sphere« (science and universities in particular), which is a relic of communism, where the price for labour was arbitrarily fixed by the state bureaucracy.

A characteristic of this period in Albania is that many new public universities in different cities have opened and many of them are constantly expanding raising the number of students and also the number of university majors and specialities, but in many cases the opening of these majors has been done without having a minimum of qualified staff to teach them. Therefore, in all universities, there is a faculty of economics and in all these universities the number of pedagogues with a doctor degree is dreadfully low, while perhaps only in one of them there are a few (one or two) pedagogues with scientific titles. For this reason, the level of specialists that these universities prepare is very doubtful, bringing at the same time a lowering of quality in the intellectual labour market in Albania.

We should emphasize that the buildings where these private universities are established are very small and insufficient to exercise a large activity and to practice all the academic year groups.

Another phenomenon of the intellectual labour market in Albania is the fact that in all faculties, pedagogues who work part time for the university cover a large part of the lessons. They are not always specialists with a reputation in their field, but for the emergency needs of the universities, they are often young specialists without experience. Normally they are employed in the central administration, international institutions, banking system or private businesses and their part time employment in university serves to enhance their reputation for their career. However, on the other hand, these specialists are too busy with their main occupations and do not come for lessons. This affects the quality of teaching and reduces the reputation of the universities.

Some of these specialists were once pedagogues of universities and have departed for the reasons mentioned above. Even though there is no statistic data, in some cases, specialists who have left universities and other scientific institutions for employment inside the country, return after a period of time to work in the university.

Only in a few cases emigrated specialists have returned to Albania and this is connected with their non-integration in the social and economic life of the countries to where they emigrated. In only a very few cases they have returned to universities and other scientific institutions, because based on their experience abroad, they have preferred to be employed in international institutions, project and foreign companies or in the banking system, i.e. in occupations with better incomes. This is because there is no favourable policy for offering facilities and incentives for pedagogues and specialists of scientific institutions to come back to Albania and work in the institutions where they used to work.

What is worse is that the institutions where they used to work are not interested any more in their destiny, and relationships with previous employees are just through private relations with their ex colleagues. Therefore, until now no one has thought of stimulating policies in order to bring back these specialists even by engaging them partially in different scientific research projects. This abandonment goes to the point where universities and other scientific institutions have no files with data about who and when people worked in their institutions and cannot follow their careers or their destiny in the places where they emigrated.

Another problem is that data on the intellectual labour market is missing. The best illustration of this is that the Academy of Science has no data on its science research staff. To construct a table on science research staff of the institutions and research centres under its authority, we had to contact with their directors (who did not have the data but had to calculate them only upon our request).

At the same time, the Ministry of Education and Science and the Institute of Statistic (INSTAT) have no data on the number of science research employees and when or if they leave and the employment of new employees. Under these conditions, only through personal contacts with the directors of the institutions, can the growth and reduction of the number of employees and their emigration and substitution be judged.

At the same time, the infrastructure of scientific research institutions which under the authority of the Academy of Science are in a bad state and their equipment is not good, creating problems and work difficulties, and a poor psychological situation for employees. This situation accompanied with low salaries for scientific research staff have made these institutions not unattractive for young talented intellectuals and encourages their employees to emigrate or to look for assignment in other institutions in public administration and the private sector.

Even though we tried our best to collect data on scientific research institutes which were under the authority of different ministries, it was impossible because we had to contact many different ministries and to get from them the addresses and contacts with institutions by contacting them personally. This would have taken a long time and would have been harder than the problem with the Science Academy and also the possibility of failing would have been very high.

The criteria for employment in these institutions are not clearly defined and their staff are often treated like additional staff of the ministry, just to employ somebody. For example, there are cases when the director of a directory in a ministry, who has poor results of work, is moved to be director of an homologue institute under the authority of the ministry. The management of the institutes are treated as secondary importance, showing very clearly how unimportant the scientific institutes are for the ministries.

It has to be mentioned that a large number of directors of scientific research institutes belong to the generation who studied during the period of communism and most of them do not know any other languages which is an obstacle to co-operation with homologue institutes. This phenomenon has caused that many young students and specialists in different Western countries and in the United States have shown unable to function in these institutions and to resign in order to be employed in non-profit organizations or to leave the country again and to return to the countries where they have studied and specialized.

Opportunities for employment in institutions and international organizations, which operate in Albania is also causing people to leave universities and institutions. High salaries and good conditions of work make employment in these institutions very attractive, attracting many experienced specialists or young specialists with a future.

Another phenomenon in the intellectual market in Albania is the co-operation with non-profit organizations and the creation and direction of some NPO/NGO’s from pedagogues of universities. Therefore, the application for funds from donators for different projects is not done by universities and governmental research institutes but from NPO, which achieve these projects by employing part time pedagogues of universities and governable scientific institutes.

This is done not only to avoid bureaucracy and administrative obstacles put by scientific rules for application and accomplishments of different projects but also to avoid the phenomenon of directors of universities engaging staff with whom they have a friendly relationship rather than the most suitable for the work. Another factor is that to avoid paying personal income taxes, the income is not always declared to the authorities.

Recommendations with Regard to Possible Future Policies and Possible Common Lines of Action at the Institutional, National, and Regional Levels

Brain drain is a barrier to the realization of the right of society to be developed. Emigration of the Albanian intellectual elite is an undesirable phenomenon accompanying the economic transition, and has negative impacts on the social-economic development of the country. It reduces the number of the researchers, engineers and pedagogues, the majority of whom have been specialized in the countries of Western Europe and the United States, and increases the lack of talented young and medium age researchers, whose emigration rates are very high.

In the meantime, the universities, scientific institutions and laboratories, different to the previous social-economic system, have ceased to be attractive for young talented researchers, undoubtedly due to low salaries and a lack of prospects for a career. Therefore, it can be said that the consequences of brain drain, will generally be negative in the medium and long term for Albania. This trend is quite the opposite of the one occurring with mass emigration in the short run.

Meanwhile, it should be accepted that the phenomenon is very difficult and complex to be administered. Nevertheless, it should not be left to spontaneity and improvised measures, but should necessarily be the subject of regulation and control by government bodies directly involved with this phenomenon.

On the other hand, the material and financial available means of state institutions are very limited as to prevent the researchers from emigrating. Possibilities to increase the income of researchers and pedagogues in the public sector, the first economic factor to encourage intellectuals’ emigration, are relatively limited, while the budget is under the constraints of limited spending. Under these circumstances, there could and should be applied a differential as to economically motivate researchers and pedagogues of the public sector.

With brain drain so high in Albania, migration, which causes a permanent shortage of highly skilled staff, especially in the universities and in the research institutions, virtually precludes the production of highly qualified personnel.

Other important factors are the work and living conditions of researchers and pedagogues in universities, laboratories and scientific institutions of the country. These, firstly, involve human, material and financial means at the disposal of researchers for research, implementation and publication of their research outcomes, the feasibility of making use of contemporary, foreign and domestic scientific information, and undoubtedly a pay rise. It is clear that researchers and pedagogues cannot be productive and creative as well, under the everyday stress of obtaining the very basic life necessities. Even in this case, as the manoeuvring possibilities of the state institutions are limited, efforts should be concentrated on seeking financing from domestic and foreign sources.

Consequently, action in this respect is a priority. However, with the lack of information regarding the intellectual labour market, bureaucracy, indifference and mediocrity, frequently present in our public administration, this part of the elite does not always succeed in making itself recognizable, thereby risking loosing an opportunity of working for the benefit of the country.

Another part of the intellectual elite that after graduate or postgraduate studies are employed by universities, laboratories, and scientific institutions or in the manufacturing and service systems of Western Europe and the United States is undoubtedly »brain drain«. As Albanian emigrants are not organized in associations and have not yet established institutionalised links with the homeland, and because our diplomatic representatives due to different reasons and financial difficulties have not approached them, they face the risk of remaining aloof and distanced from our country’s problems and challenges.

In the case of Albania, that only pulled itself out from a long period of isolation in the late 1980’s, the need for emigrated intellectuals to establish bridges and co-operation links between our institutions and Western ones, where they are employed, to undertake joint research projects and to transmit knowledge and the contemporary experience is especially great. From the political, economical, social and scientific point of view, this could accelerate and prepare the country’s integration into the European Union. A similar precedent has already been established. It is a well known fact, that a part of foreign direct investments into Albania, during the transition, are the fruit of foreign firms encouraged by Albanian emigrants, they employ.

Restraining »brain drain« and encouraging the intellectual elite to return to Albania undoubtedly require the design of a national scientific policy with a clear medium and long-term strategy, in close cooperation with economic policy. It is clear that in order to implement a successful scientific policy, some macroeconomic conditions are needed such as the creation of a stabilized market economy that functions in all its institutions, a regulatory and benefiting environment for enterprises allowing for long term development, development of a capital market, anti inflation measures, stimulation of export oriented foreign trade policies, and a long-term industrial policy.

Amongst the efforts aimed at facing the phenomenon of intellectual emigration, the government should address the problems regarding science and education financing, the management and administration of the relevant institutions, and the working conditions in science and education.

It is clear that administrative improvement of intellectual emigration cannot be successful without international scientific co-operation with universities, institutions, laboratories in the countries of Western Europe and the United States, with foreign investors and multinational companies. Another alternative is the membership of many international organizations.

Increasing the number of scientific and intergovernmental co-operation agreements will increase the mobility within the international scientific community and will strengthen direct international cooperation between universities and scientific institutions of different countries. These agreements may appear in the form of cooperation into joint projects, temporary employment on a contractual basis with foreign universities and scientific institutions, participation in conferences and seminars, and information exchange between universities or centres involved in the same research areas, or publication policies by facilitating the dissemination and evaluation of Albanian researches’ works.

Last, but not least, in importance and effects on the regulation of migratory flows, is Albanian economic structure modernization. In our opinion, if an improvement in the social-economic conditions in the country does not materialize, emigration or brain drain from Albania will continue to grow. The chances of potential emigration turning into actual emigration, undoubtedly, will be defined by the social, political and economic evolution of the situation, by the evolution of the science and higher education in Albania, and immigration policies in host countries.

The limitation of migrants from any country is extremely difficult. The application of administrative barriers is expensive from the social point of view and has little effect. The administrative restrictions and poor treatment of intellectuals are one of the main motivations for leaving. While patriotic appeals as well as an obligation to the country (state) do not bring visible results.

Realizing socio-economic change is certainly connected with foreign direct investments, which have been limited, so far. Although, these factors create a vicious circle. On the one hand, intellectual emigration restrains direct foreign investments. Whereas, on the other hand, the lack of foreign investments encourages intellectual emigration. So far, a solution to the problem has not been found. All this relates to the clear definition and elaboration of a long-term industrial policy.

In all universities there is a growing number of academic staff with several jobs, who usually treats their university job as a secondary occupation. Many graduates employed by universities stay only until they get a master scholarship abroad and often move into other occupations, mainly at international institutions, banks etc.

Many academic staff of universities continue to work for universities only because their university job gives them academic status, which is welcomed in other part time jobs as consulting, banks, private businesses, non profit organizations etc. Others treat it as a great possibility to have free time for managing their own business.

Due to the practice of taking several jobs and recruiting under qualified new staff, in many disciplines the level of lectures and classes is decreasing, sometimes the lectures and classes are being conducted irregularly. The positive aspect of this situation is only that the lecturers are bringing to the teaching process the experience of everyday business.

As the result, the Albanian governments have failed to perceive the role of science and higher education in the contemporary world. The limitations of funds are greater in education and science than in other expenditures of the state budget.


1. Gëdeshi, »Aspects of Emigration of the Intellectual Elite from Albania during the Transition Period in Albania«. Center for Economic and Social Studies, Tirana 1999.

2. Ditter, J-G., Gedeshi, I. »Conditions économiques et emigration des elites intellectuelles en Albanie«, CERI. Cahiers d'Etudes sur la Méditerranée Orientale et le Monde Turco-Iranien No. 23 (janvier-juin 1997).

3. Quinet, A. »Migrations économiques«, Analyses de la SEDEIS No. 92 (1993).


Andreff, W.: »S&T and the Future of Economies in Transition: An Economic Perspective«, in, Meske, W. et al. »Transforming Science and Technology Systems-the Endless Transition?«, IOS Press, 1998.

Civil Code of the Republic of Albania.

Dishnica, T.: »Agriculture Research in Albania: A Monograph«, Tirana 2002, p.218.

Gëdeshi, I., Mara H., Dhimitri R., and Krisafi K.: »Aspects of Emigration of the Intellectual Elite from Albania during the Transition Period in Albania«. Centre for Economic and Social Studies, Tirana 1999, p. 102.

Instat. Education: »Statistics and Indicators 1991-2002«, Tirana December 2002, p. 60.

Instat: »Labour Market 2002«, Tirana 2003, p. 30.

Instat: »Statistical Yearbook 1992-2001«, Tirana 2001, p. 425.

Jalowiecki, B., Hryniewicz, J., and Mync, A.: »Brain Drain from Science and Universities in Poland 1992-1993«. University of Warsaw, European Institute for Regional and Local Development, Warsaw 1994, p.102.

The Status of Civil Employee. Law No. 8549 of 11. November 1999.

Mema, F.: »Immigration and Urbanization«, Demography Magazine 2 (1998).

Mema, F.: »Some Features of Albanian Emigration in Italy«, Economy and Transition Magazine 1 23 (2000).

Mema, F.: »Urbanization or Ruralization for the Industrial Towns«, Study of Population Magazine 1 (1998).

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Version: 1.0 - 21.10.2005