Thursday, August 27, 2015

More than a Third of New University Graduates in Kaliningrad Want to Live and Work Abroad

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 27 – As in many countries, a university degree is often a ticket out to a better place and a better life in Russia, but graduates from universities in different parts of Russia have different aspirations; and it must be a matter of concern to Moscow that more than a third of those getting degrees in Kaliningrad want to leave that Russian exclave and work abroad.

            That figure is far higher than the ones of the other regions a new Moscow study finds, a reflection of both the special geographic position of the exclave – it is surrounded by foreign countries and the Baltic Sea – and the economic difficulties that Kaliningrad has been experiencing since the end of Soviet times (

            But what may be even more significant for Russia is the survey’s findings that fewer than a quarter of all graduates of regional universities are interested in moving to other parts of the country, an indication that an increasing share of them link their futures not to the Russian Federation as a whole but to the portions of it in which they live.

            Said Ziganurov, a researcher at Moscow’s Higher School of Economics, surveyed 1658 2013 graduates of universities in five regional centers: Kaliningrad, Kemerovo, Perm, Rostov-na-Donu, and Ufa about where they planned to live and work.  Economic factors – high pay and the possibility of making a career – were the most important, but they weren’t the only ones.

            Almost as significant as the reason for their choice as to where to live, the researcher found, were the impressions the graduates had about the social-psychological comfort of this city or that or indeed this country or that, a category that included both security and tolerance, on the one hand, and the cultural “’aura’” on the other.

            Overall, about half of the sample said they intended to remain in the city where they had studied, with about a quarter (23 percent) saying they planned to move. Just under two-thirds of those who planned to move said they would go to another city in Russia, but just over one-third said they would go abroad.

            Graduates in Kemerovo were the least likely to say they would move, while those in Kaliningrad were the most likely, a pattern that reflects their very different geographic situations,  Ziganurov says. The graduates also varied in terms of plans to return home to where they were from with Perm showing the lowest in this regard and Ufa the highest.

            The investigator asked the graduates “why do you intend to go to this city or country?”  Respondents were allowed to choose three reasons from a closed list. The top three reasons they gave were finding interesting work, good pay, or the idea that “this is the city of my dreams.”  Curiously, they did not say they would go where those with their specialty were in high demand.

            Ziganurov said that as expected economic factors predominated “but at the same time,” others, such as socio-cultural associations were “not unimportant,” including its reputation for well-being in the broadest sense, the ease and comfort of living there, and the presence of friends and relatives.

            As an example of the way in which these factors play out, he pointed to the very different reasons those who wanted to go to Moscow justified their choice as compared to the reasons offered by those who wanted to go to St. Petersburg.

            Those who wanted to go to Moscow mentioned good pay and marriage most often, while those who wanted to go to the northern capital referred to security and tolerance, as a city that was special in its own right rather than simply being a place where they could pursue a high-paying career.

            That distinction is one that many have long intuitively felt. Now, the Higher School of Economics investigator has provided data to back it up. 

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