Sunday, July 30, 2006

Let Your People Go

According to an article in the Sunday New York Times, Redrawing the College Map, New York, California, and Pennsylvania (in that order) attract the most new college students from other states. Pennsylvania's neighbor, Ohio, is a net-exporter of college students. New Jersey is another loser in the brain drain game. That state loses more students than Pennsylvania gains.

Georgia bends over backwards to retain its graduating high school seniors, but that's bad policy. As the article points out, higher education in Europe takes a similar approach, effectively closing off their universities to the rest of the world. Once again, attempts to keep people from leaving a region are misguided.

Plenty of brain capital immigrates to Pittsburgh. This migration flow is critical to the economic health of the region, but how do you best exploit it? Do you induce college graduates to stay? At the very least, you mine the ideas while the students are around learning. What this entails is a strong relationship between the universities and local business. I suspect that the connection between CMU/Pitt and Pittsburgh is tenuous, but I don't know that for a fact.

What I imagine is local kingmakers viewing University of Pittsburgh for Pittsburghers. These are the same people trying desperately to keep the natives from leaving. Any such campaign is doomed before it starts.

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