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Retaining Africa's talent: the role of Africa's higher education

Mercy Mpinganjira (Department of Marketing, Faculty of Management, University of Johannesburg, Doornfontein, South Africa)

International Journal of Emerging Markets

ISSN: 1746-8809

Article publication date: 12 April 2011




Brain drain has become a serious problem on the African continent. Most African migrants initially move out of their countries of origin to pursue higher education studies abroad. Encouraging more African students to study within the continent is seen as one way of dealing with the problem. This paper aims at understanding factors influencing African students to undertake postgraduate studies abroad.


Focus group discussions, in‐depth interviews and an online structured questionnaire were the main approaches used for data collection. A sample of 94 international postgraduate students from Africa studying at University of Witwatersrand in South Africa was used in the analysis.


The results show that conditions in both the students' countries of origin and in the possible hosting countries contribute to the decision to study abroad. Of prime importance among the factors attracting students abroad is the need to acquire an education with world‐wide recognition.

Practical implications

The findings have implications for the management of the higher education sector in the continent and the marketing of a country and/or its institutions to international students coming from other African countries.


The paper identifies the factors influencing international student mobility among African students and notes the implications of these on attracting African students wanting to study abroad to do so in countries within the continent.



Mpinganjira, M. (2011), "Retaining Africa's talent: the role of Africa's higher education", International Journal of Emerging Markets, Vol. 6 No. 2, pp. 168-179.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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