By Faranak Bakhtiari

Knowledge-based development reduces migration of educated elite

April 16, 2022 - 17:46

TEHRAN – The establishment of knowledge-based companies and the development of innovation ecosystems in the country, according to officials and people working in the technology sector, have decreased the rate of migration by the educated elite.

One of the main assets of any country is its human resources, especially the elite and the educated. In Iran, the issue of elite immigration has always been one of the important concerns of decision-makers and politicians. However, this area faces a serious lack of credible statistics and research needed for effective policymaking.

In such circumstances, one of the ways that can be effective in explaining the current situation in Iran is to examine the global indicators, according to the latest statistics in the immigrant population section 2021, the world’s immigrant population in 2020 was estimated at 281 million people, which is 3.6 percent of the world’s population.

The population of Iranian immigrants in the world is reported to be 1.8 million people, which is 2.23 percent of the country’s population. However, according to national statistics, the population of Iranian immigrants abroad is estimated at 4.04 million, a figure that cannot be verified based on international sources.

The population of Iranian immigrants in the world in 1990 was 820,000 people, which in 2020 reached 1.8 million people. In fact, over the past 30 years, it has increased 2.2 times.

While Iran’s share of the world's population is about 1.07 percent, its share of the world's immigrant population has increased from 0.54 percent in 1990 to 0.70 percent in 2020. Which is still lower than the global share of Iran’s population.

Regarding the status of international student transfers, in 2018 the total number of students in the world in the field of higher education was 227 million, with international students accounting for only 2.4 percent of this population.

During a 10-year period from 2008 to 2018, the number of international students in the world has increased by about 67 percent. Over the past two years, the coronavirus epidemic has slowed the growing international student relocation process.

The number of Iranian students abroad has gradually increased in line with the increase in the total population of international students in the world, which reached from 19,000 students in 2003 to 56,000 students in 2018.

Factors such as the rising dollar and subsequent increase in student immigration costs, visa restrictions imposed by the U.S. government on Iranian students, and the recent outbreak of the coronavirus have prevented Iranian students from migrating over the past few years. Of course, the above factors have also increased the number of Iranian students in Turkey and countries such as Germany, Canada, and Italy, which have simpler visa rules.

On the other hand, the development of the innovation ecosystem in Iran and the establishment of knowledge-based companies, especially by talented and prominent academics, has caused the number of migrants to decrease, according to Vice President for Science and Technology, Sourena Sattari.

The migration of the elite is decreasing, but the migration of the middle classes is one of the new debates that has arisen, Sattari told IRNA on Saturday.

The National Foundation for the Elite has been compiling a database since 2013, when the Foundation was formed, which shows that about 70,000 people have used the facilities of the Foundation, he stated.

The facilities of the foundation are granted to each person through their records of activities, including education, research, honors, and other cultural and social activities, he said, adding, the facilities are always available to talented students, top university graduates, selected inventors, and selected specialists.

Currently, elites mostly work in knowledge-based companies or universities, but recently, another path has been opened by the government is the recruitment of elites in state-run organizations, he announced.

Moving towards a knowledge-based economy

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei designated the Iranian New Year (1401) as “The Year of Production: Knowledge-Based and Job-Creating”.

Strengthening knowledge-based companies is on the agenda, raising hope for reducing obstacles on the path to development.

The Innovation and Prosperity Fund has paid a total of 240 trillion rials (nearly $960 million) to support knowledge-based companies over the last [Iranian calendar] year (March 2021-March 2022).

The share of knowledge-based companies in the country's economy has exceeded 9 quadrillion rials (about $34 billion), and since 2019, it has experienced a growth of more than 450 percent, he stated.

The knowledge-based ecosystem is a newly-emerged ecosystem but has so far been able to solve many of the country's problems.

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