University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez Campus Brain Drain Problem

Puerto Rico has a massive “brain drain” problem. Around 76,000 citizens of Puerto Rico left the Island in 2011 alone, which includes professional and college students in the search of job opportunities. Students from the University of Puerto Rico-Mayagüez Campus represent one of the brain drain problems in P.R. They are receiving a high level education at lower tuition cost in Puerto Rico, but they are leaving the island for better jobs opportunities in the United States. Since the politic problems, like the “divided government” suffered by Acevedo Vila, mentioned by Jena Vidal, arise and crimes increase, many Puerto Ricans decide migrate to the states.

On Thursday, October 31of 2013 a press conference of the brain drain was given in Chardón 325. The panelists consists of Erwin Maldonado Otero, historian and accounting, with a bachelor degree in Business Administration at the UPRM and José Torres, a third year mathematics major at UPRM.

One of José’s answers to a question based in his choice of college was that of four colleges that he applied, three were at the U.S. and one was the UPRM. He was accepted in all four, but his selection was UPRM because it was the cheapest and he will save money. José its a clear example of how Puerto Rico’s education is chosen among students because they receive a higher education at a lower cost.

In an article titled “A Proposal for Puerto Rico’s Public University System” Luis Gallardo Rivera, M.A in public administration and legislator of Aguas Buenas, P.R. says that local talent are tempted by the higher salaries that companies such as NASA, U.S. government agencies, Boeing and U.S. hospitals offers to them. According Gallardo Rivera, 37 percent of students surveyed at the UPRM plan on leaving the island after graduating.

The Job Fair celebrated in the UPRM in Sept. 27, 2013 is a perfect example of how hundreds of students prefer U.S. companies with high salary instead of the one in Puerto Rico. Not only this day, students spend all their college studying for job opportunities in the States.

Factors such as Puerto Rico’s economic crisis, unemployment and the increase of crimes motivate students to leave the island. Gallardo says, “Puerto Rico’s public universities are exporting their graduates in mass. With 50 percent of emigrants between 2000 and 2010.” With such big numbers, Puerto Rico is not only losing his best talents, also billions of dollars, which are spent in students high education. All this factors are affecting the island economy in addition to others.

Puerto Rico’s brain drain problem increased over the years. The island population has dropped dramatically. According to an article by Jean Vidal published in Politic365 Web page, “Puerto Rico’s Brain Drain Problem,” Puerto Rico’s population dropped from four million in 2000 to close to half a million citizens less.

These numbers not only include college students, also other professionals and families who want a better quality of life. Since the “divided government”, mentioned by Vidal in his article, Puerto Rico’s deficit contributed for an economy crisis; wages fell, unemployment rate increased and crime also increased. Taking advantage of the U. S. citizenship, which allows us to travel to the U.S. with out legal restriction, they decide to emigrate in search of better salaries, lower crimes and overall a better quality of life.

In the press conference when Erwin Maldonado was asked if the main causes of Puerto Rico’s crisis was the brain drain, he said, “No, the offer of employment declined a lot. United State have a lot more better jobs offer.” Talking about what causes the brain drain is a complex issue because it’s related with the political problems, the economic crisis and the increase of crime in P.R.

Although leaving the Island, families and friends it’s a very difficult choice, UPRM students in the pursuit of their goals choose to emigrate, they are tempted by companies from the outside of P.R. who can afford higher salaries, better qualities of life and a secure job instead of a part time. Based in the testimonials of Erwin and José at the Press Conference, before taking a decision, UPRM students should investigate more about the U.S. economy, the quality of life in the place they will go and if things are actually better, no migrate without any knowledge, being carried away by experiences of others.


Antonio Lucchetti building/ Mechanical Engineer building at UPRM


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