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Portugal: 69% plan to emigrate after graduation

A report by the Oporto Academic Federation (FAP) has found that 69% of university students in Portugal plan to emigrate after graduation in search of better working conditions, job opportunities and pay.

The Universidade de Coimbra, established in 1290 is Portugal's oldest university and one of the country's largest

12.3% of the workforce is unemployed, 50% jobless for 12 months or more

Student associations across the country surveyed 1,751 university students aged between 20 and 24. Most respondents said Europe and South America were their preferred destinations with students studying architecture and engineering the most interested in emigrating.

“The data suggests that, in general, socio-economic changes resulting from the financial and budget cuts happening in Portugal are making themselves felt,” said FAP.

Despite wanting to work abroad, many respondents said barriers such as a lack of information stood in the way.

“Socio-economic changes resulting from the financial and budget cuts happening in Portugal are making themselves felt”

Many also found it too costly to participate in outward mobility programmes. FAP suggests the country’s socio-economic downturn could be behind the high number of drop outs from the Erasmus study abroad programme.

“There is still the lack of financial support for students who want to study abroad,” said Marco Leitão Silva, a graduate of a Portuguese university who has since immigrated to the UK.  “Even though there is information available for those who want to do it, the financial costs associated to this sort of experience are far too high for the average Portuguese student.”

Silva worked in Lisbon for two years after graduating in 2008 but then moved to the UK. “I realised that if I stayed in Portugal, I would hardly have the same sort of opportunities – in professional terms – that I have in a country like the United Kingdom.”

The desire to emigrate has grown across Eurozone countries since the sovereign debt crisis began in late 2009. Over the border, the number of Spaniards in their late teens, 20s and early 30s leaving the country has increased by 52% – from about 12,500 to more than 20,000 according to the government statistics agency.

Portugal’s prime minister also suggested last year that unemployed teachers should consider heading to former colonies for work. According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Portugal’s unemployment rate has steadily been rising since 2003 from 7.1% of the workforce to 12.3% in 2011.




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