Why brain drain is a serious issue in Taiwan?

Throughout the 1980’s and early 1990’s, Taiwan was the largest source of international students to the United States. But now the total number of Taiwanese students studying abroad has decreased by 22% from a decade ago. Although Taiwan at one time leads the “Four Asian Tigers” in economic growth, today it is the only Asian territory whose studying-abroad population declined in 2014.

There are several factors contributing to this, but all are attributed to various economic issues affecting Taiwan’s society. Job prospects in Taiwan remain relatively poor even for highly qualified graduates. Those jobs that are available are genuinely low paying at an average starting salary of about $900.00 US dollars per month. Given the exorbitant costs of an education abroad, the return on investment hardly seems worth the effort. Also, there are many quality colleges in Taiwan that are much more affordable.

Taiwan’s Brain Drain Crisis

While other Asian regions have enjoyed a 5% to13% increase in their number of students studying in the U.S.A from 2013 to 2014, Taiwan had experienced a 2.7 percent decrease that same year. This continued reclusive spiral away from international education raises alarming concerns about the territory’s ability to compete globally.

A workforce competitivity survey conducted by Oxford Economics in 2013 indicates that by 2021, Taiwan will suffer a lack of talented manpower so great that it will reach a crisis level.

In recent years, many Taiwan’s socio-economic publications such as World Magazine, have published several articles on Taiwan’s rapidly depleting human resource pool, and the adverse economic effects this poses to its ability to thrive as well as had in the past.

In 2014, one World Magazine Chinese article entitled “Taiwanese talent disappearing from the world map” pointed out that although there were many leading Asian companies participating in MIT’s Asian Career Fair in 2014, none were from Taiwan.

MIT’s Career Fair is a major event where leading companies recruit top talent. MIT is also where Morris Chang, President of Taiwan Semiconductor, received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in science.

Another factor contributing to the spiraling decrease in Taiwanese students studying abroad is the territory’s declining birth rate. For more information please refer to TIME Magazine’s 2009 article “Why has Taiwan’s Birthrate Dropped so low?”. In 2011, Voice of America published another interesting article entitled “Taiwan Birth Rate Falls to World’s Lowest.”

(Edited by T. Gray, Co-founder of Access Education, LLC)